Indigenous oyster fisheries persisted for millennia and should inform future management

Leslie Reeder-Myers, Todd J. Braje, Courtney A. Hofman, Emma A. Elliott Smith, Carey J. Garland, Michael Grone, Carla S. Hadden, Marco Hatch, Turner Hunt, Alice Kelley, Michelle J. LeFebvre, Michael Lockman, Iain McKechnie, Ian J. McNiven, Bonnie Newsom, Thomas Pluckhahn, Gabriel Sanchez, Margo Schwadron, Karen Y. Smith, Tam SmithArthur Spiess, Gabrielle Tayac, Victor D. Thompson, Taylor Vollman, Elic M. Weitzel, Torben C. Rick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Historical ecology has revolutionized our understanding of fisheries and cultural landscapes, demonstrating the value of historical data for evaluating the past, present, and future of Earth’s ecosystems. Despite several important studies, Indigenous fisheries generally receive less attention from scholars and managers than the 17th–20th century capitalist commercial fisheries that decimated many keystone species, including oysters. We investigate Indigenous oyster harvest through time in North America and Australia, placing these data in the context of sea level histories and historical catch records. Indigenous oyster fisheries were pervasive across space and through time, persisting for 5000–10,000 years or more. Oysters were likely managed and sometimes “farmed,” and are woven into broader cultural, ritual, and social traditions. Effective stewardship of oyster reefs and other marine fisheries around the world must center Indigenous histories and include Indigenous community members to co-develop more inclusive, just, and successful strategies for restoration, harvest, and management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2383
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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