The Local Knowledge Database

Local knowledge (LK) in the FishBase context refers to what is normally called ‘Indigenous’ (IK) or ‘Traditional’ Knowledge, usually in developing countries.

However, our definition of LK extends to developed countries as well, and their fishers’ perception of fish resources, and to the past, to allow capturing the local knowledge of the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Greeks, etc.

Local knowledge is always assigned to a culture, itself defined by (1) a locality (country or province/state) and (2) a language (which may be extinct, e.g., Ancient Egyptian, Middle High German).

Note that LK, to be amenable to entry into the database presented here, must be species-specific, i.e., FishBase cannot accommodate knowledge (e.g., on fishing gears) pertaining to ‘fishes’ in general or to large undifferentiated groups of fish, such as ‘sharks’. If LK refers to a genus rather than a species, we suggest that you attach it to the most common species of that genus, and mention in the remarks that it also refers to the other species of this genus occurring in that country.

Create your own Local Knowledge database

The Local Knowledge module allows users to create their own local knowledge databases. This is based on a LOCAL NAMES table, similar to the COMMON NAMES table of FishBase, the only difference between the two tables being that the former includes names that are global in scope (e.g., the FAO names), while the latter is meant for names that are strictly local.

Click on the Local Knowledge button to open the Local Names menu. Click on the Create Checklist button and select a country and language. A preliminary checklist will be created from the over 100,000 common names available in FishBase. Once available, the checklist can be searched through the Search/Edit button, which opens the SEARCH BY... window. There are four buttons in this menu, viz.:

  1. the Browse button which allows sequential access of records;

  2. the Species button which allows specific access of record(s) using either one or a combination of the Family, Genus and/or Species fields as search term;

  3. the Language button which allows access of record(s) using language as a search term; and

  4. the Common name button which allows specific access of record(s) corresponding to the common name in the search term.

The Search/Edit and Add Records button leads to the LOCAL NAMES form, which enables the entry of LK for names, which:

  • are already in the list as created by the Create Checklist button; and/or

  • refer to species for which no common name has yet been entered in FishBase.

Note that the Species fields are pull-down lists; i.e., clicking on the down arrow key at the right end of the field will give a list of all the genera and species in the checklist. New entries can be added to the list by simply typing the genus and species in the allotted field. The Class, Order and Family fields (in gray) are automatically linked to the species name and need not be entered. All the other fields are the same as those discussed in Palomares and Pauly (this vol.) with regard to the COMMON NAMES table.



There are five buttons on the upper right hand corner of the form. The top two are the undo (arrow) and delete (x) buttons for undoing changes made to a record and deleting a record, respectively. The fish button shows a picture of the species. The fish-head button (FishBase icon) links the LOCAL NAMES database to the FishBase SPECIES table and thence to other information available in FishBase for the species. The globe button shows a FishBase distribution map and occurrence records, if any.

The four buttons at the bottom of the Local Names menu are database tools. The Repair button enables the user to fix errors generated by deleting and adding records. This is used, together with the Compact button, to compress the database and to make more efficient use of harddisk space. The Backup button makes a copy of the database in a given drive/directory, while the Restore button copies the database from the backup directory to the working FishBase directory on the user’s harddisk.

Maria Lourdes D. Palomares and Daniel Pauly