Data derived from studies of fishers' local ecological knowledge (LEK) can be invaluable to the proposal of new studies and more appropriate management strategies. This study analyzed the fisher's LEK about trophic relationships of fishes in the southeastern Brazilian coast, comparing fishers' LEK with scientific knowledge to provide new hypotheses.
The initial contacts with fishers were made through informal visits in their residences, to explain the research goals, meet fishers and their families, check the number of resident fishers and ask for fishers' consent to participate in the research. After this initial contact, fishers were selected to be included in the interviews through the technique of snowball sampling. The fishers indicated by others who attended the criteria to be included in the research were interviewed by using a semi-structured standard questionnaire.
There were interviewed 26 artisanal fishers from three communities of the Ilhabela: Jabaquara, Fome and Serraria. The interviewed fishers showed a detailed knowledge about the trophic interactions of the studied coastal fishes, as fishers mentioned 17 food items for these fishes and six fish and three mammals as fish predators. The most mentioned food items were small fish, shrimps and crabs, while the most mentioned predators were large reef fishes. Fishers also mentioned some predators, such as sea otters, that have not been reported by the biological literature and are poorly known.
The LEK of the studied fishers showed a high degree of concordance with the scientific literature regarding fish diet. This study evidenced the value of fishers' LEK to improve fisheries research and management, as well as the needy to increase the collaboration among managers, biologists and fishers.