For the first episode of Saltwater Library, I interviewed Stephan Schnierer, who is a fisher, surfer, and respected advocate for greater recognition of Indigenous cultural fishing rights.

Stephan Schnierer surfing a wave at The Pass in 2015

Stephan Schnierer surfing a wave at The Pass in 2015.

I know Stephan from surfing The Pass, in Byron Bay. The Pass is one of those incredibly popular and beloved surf breaks; a peeling, sandy bottom point break with crystal clear water, that is protected in many of the more devilish winds. Its consistency makes it seem straight forward to surf, but the combination of currents and crowds make it a lot more difficult that it appears from the shore. Stephan Schnierer is one of the people I always imagine when I think of those who surf The Pass with experience, confidence and style. He flies down the line, usually on a set wave, but never gives a sense of being aggressive or greedy. Stephan gets good waves, but he lets lots of waves go as well so he’s a very nice person to share a busy surfbreak with.

Hydrabad 2012 Stephan Schnierer giving a presentation on Indigenous fisheries to the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity in Hyderabad India during COP11.

Hydrabad 2012 Stephan Schnierer giving a presentation on Indigenous fisheries to the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity in Hyderabad India during COP11.

What I didn’t know about Stephan, is that he is a lifelong fisher and a respected international expert on Indigenous cultural fishing rights. When I found out, I was excited to learn more about his work and his views on how we can develop more ethical relationships to coasts and oceans through centralising Indigenous ecological knowledges and relationships.

I really enjoyed learning about Stephan’s relationships to fishing and surfing, and how these are connected to his relationships to family, place, community, culture, and marine ecologies he loves. You can find the podcast episode and transcript of Stephan’s discussion of Indigenous ecological knowledges here, but I also wanted to share a little more information about Stephan’s work, as well as some additional links related to our discussion. Over time I will add to this post as more relevant links come to hand, but for now, please enjoy Stephan’s insights on the importance of including Indigenous ecological knowledges and rights in all research and policy related to coasts and oceans.

Stephan Schnierer learning about pipis with his grandson on the beach

Some of Stephan’s research and publications (click resource name for link):

[If you have trouble accessing these, please get in touch for assistance]

Further reading and resources (click resource name for link)::

A photo-collage artwork by Stephan Schnierer of fish, cormorants and rock

An artwork by Stephan Schnierer that explores at species relationships in the aquatic realm

 

By Published On: April 8, 2022Categories: Localism & Newcomers, Multi-species Communities

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