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“Draw the sea…”: Children’s representations of ocean connectivity in Fiji and New Caledonia

Elodie Fache, Susanna Piovano, Alisi Soderberg, Malakai Tuiono, Léa Riera, Gilbert David, Matthias Kowasch, Simonne Pauwels, Annette Breckwoldt, Stéphanie M. Carrière & Catherine Sabinot

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Published in 2022, this open access scientific paper analyses 290 children’s drawings from Fiji and New Caledonia.

This scientific paper analyses 290 children’s drawings from Fiji and New Caledonia, created in 2019 in spontaneous response to the instruction: “Draw the sea and what you and others do in the sea.” The interdisciplinary team (anthropology, ethnoecology, geography, marine science) organized drawing workshops in schools located in three different areas in Fiji and New Caledonia: (1) an urban site; (2) a rural site; and (3) a second rural site, adjacent to a formal marine protected area (MPA). Exploring the webs of connections with and within the sea revealed by these children’s drawings and their own interpretations leads us to discuss children’s representations of the sea: (1) beyond a land-sea compartmentation, (2) as a locus of both exploitation and conservation of marine life, and (3) as a ‘place-full’ space connecting human and more-than-human realms. In the South Pacific region, marine territories and resources play a crucial role for local communities. Children engage with these territories and resources from an early age onwards. As the next ocean stewards, they are a stakeholder group whose understandings of ocean connectivity and fisheries should be given serious consideration in decision-making processes towards the sustainable use and management of coastal seas.