Bright Young Faces

An opportunity in the face of challenge

Meet some of the international students based at Memorial University, Canada, that have been hired by TBTI and our partners as part of the 'Covid-19 Job’ initiative'.  This was a way to provide a much needed job opportunity to students who have lost their income and financial support as a result of the Covid-19 closures. Many of these students found themselves in a truly perilous situation. At the same time, this was an opportunity for projects to continue despite the restriction in field- and lab-based research.


Ruhul  Mashbu

Ruhul is a full-time computer science graduate student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. he completed his undergraduate program in computer science and engineering from Bangladesh. He moved to Canada in August 2019.

When the pandemic hit St John’s for the first time in April 2020, I came to know about ISSF through their COVID job mob program where they were providing opportunities for international students to apply for various posts in the ISSF project. Even though initially I was hired for a month but later I really got settled in the job along with some of the brilliant students of Memorial University. Now, I work as a full-stack web developer with the ISSF team. My role revolves around fixing bugs and adding features to the website while making sure that our website doesn’t face any performance issues. I have also been responsible to ensure that our users have a great experience browsing through the site regardless of what platform or device they may have been using to access the system. These tasks offer me an excellent opportunity to brush up my skills in an efficient manner as well as gives me the chance to learn new technologies, preparing myself for the competitive software industries.

We have an exciting website with the latest technologies including geographic maps and amazing styles to visualize different statistical data. We are adding new content regularly to keep our users refreshed and well informed about our data and findings. Please visit the ISSF website for more exciting stuff.


Rubaba Mammadova,

Rubaba is from Azerbaijan. She started my Computer Science in fall 2019 at the Memorial University.

I am currently responsible for the analysis and visualization of SSF data. I joined the team as a result of the support that Dr. Ratana was providing to the students impacted by COVID-19. Afterward, I was offered a co-op work term placement as a data analyst where I am learning and enhancing a lot of skills. Flexible working hours, friendly and helpful team members make this research team a wonderful workplace. I am happy to be a part of the TBTI and contribute to addressing issues affecting SSF. It is a real pleasure for me to work in this team!

Marcos Antonio Macedo 

As a contributor to TBTI projects, I've discovered that the organization is doing significant research and promoting awareness on small-scale fisheries, among other activities. As importantly, it is a big community of people helping each other in times of need, and every step taken helps strengthen communities and empower people around the world.

I'm an undergraduate student from Uruguay who came on an exchange program to Canada. I became aware of how Dr. Chuenpagdee and her team are helping students sustain during the COVID-19 crisis thanks to an interview I read in the newspaper and a friend of mine who was researching on the project.

Since then, I've been helping maintain and improve the ISSF platform, which is where we collect and display data regarding small-scale fisheries' situations around the world. Doing that has been an excellent experience for me, working with a wonderful and talented team.

I'm glad and happy to have the opportunity to take part in this great cause by applying my knowledge in Computer Science. This project has helped me realize and understand the problems small-scale fisheries and people are facing around the world.


Dorota Kinga Pietruszka
Dorota comes from southern Poland, where she completed her Bachelor's and first M.Sc. in Economic Geology. She is pursuing a second M.Sc. in Economic Geology and Geochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences at MUN. She enjoys hiking, acrylic painting, and graphic design.

Before joining the TBTI team, I did not know much about small-scale fisheries. However, coming from a small, agricultural community, I know the value of local businesses and the difficulties they face in finding the fine balance between sustainable use and protection of natural resources and the environment. After reading more about TBTI, I found their work impressive. It is really inspiring how TBTI took on the challenge to show how important small-scale fisheries are and provide a platform for them to be heard. I consider learning about small-scale fisheries fascinating: how they cope with social, political, and economic obstacles is truly remarkable. Working for TBTI is an eye-opening experience and I am very happy to be part of this team.


Arash Samizadeh Mashhadi
Arash is doing a Master of Environmental Engineering and Management at Memorial University. He has completed his bachelor’s degree in the field of Civil Engineering in his home country, Iran.

I am always eager to learn and enhance my experiences. Before working on the TBTI project, I had limited knowledge about the fishery and its impact on the food industry. Little by little, I went more in-depth into the topic, and I found it very exciting.

As I learned more about Small Scale Fisheries, I learned about the connection between Fish Industry and Environmental challenges, which is entirely related to the major that I am studying now. I can say that this project opened a new window for my future career.

Linh Vu
Originally from Vietnam, Linh is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Economics at Memorial University. She completed her undergraduate studies in Singapore.

Working with TBIT is a fascinating opportunity to be engaged in a relatively new and exciting field. Did you know that: "Fish provides more than one billion poor people with most of their daily animal protein"? And that "the very poor often rely on fishing as a primary source of income. These small-scale fishers are particularly vulnerable as fish stocks diminish". Especially in my own home country, where fisheries are predominantly small-scale, and mainly operated in coastal waters. Thanks to the diversified team, I can observe on this matter from various points of view from several different parts of the world. I have learned so much about sustainability, productive fisheries, and the promotion of economic growth and protecting our environment and natural resources. My awareness has definitely been changed in a good way, thank you, TBTI!


Mohannad Shaker Aldamanhouri
After finishing his Civil engineering degree in Jordan, Mohannad moved to Qatar to start his career. He has three years of experience in roads and infrastructure field. He is now pursuing his Master's degree in Environmental System Engineering and Management at Memorial University.

I choose master's degree in Environmental System Engineering and Management because I believe that civil engineer has a high responsibility to apply scientific theories and principles to minimize the impact of society on the environment and to ensure that the use of water, land, and air resources are sustainable and that environmental pollution and degradation are minimized.

Jordan is almost entirely land-locked with a small (27 km) marine coast to the Red Sea, centred on the port of Aqaba. Jordan has a small fishing industry; in 2001, it imported around 98 percent of fish supply. There are no cold storage facilities, and the catch is freshly sold upon landing, especially to hotels and restaurants. I didn't know anything about small-scale fisheries before my contribution to this project, and now I am learning about the obstacles and issues faced by small scale fisheries.

Working on this project was a great learning experience in that it offered opportunities to get information in different countries and provided some insights into the academic perspective. I'm glad that I have got this opportunity and I'm keen to learn more about small-scale fisheries around the world.


Danielle Medeiros
Daniele is from Brazil and has a Bachelor's degree in International Relations. She has recently started her Master's in Political Science at Memorial University.

Prior to working with Too Bog To Ignore, I had never heard of small-scale fisheries and their implications and that is really intriguing. Coming from a country where we have so much water, I am certain that small-scale fishing is extremely relevant, but still it is not something broadly discussed.

This experience was an incredible opportunity to learn more about fisheries and it definitely made me more conscious and appreciative of our fisheries, both in Brazil and in Newfoundland. I hope I can spread this message to more people who, like I did before being a part of this team, have no clue about how important small-scale fisheries are. Thank you TBTI for this chance and for all that I have learned throughout this process!

Tonmoy Ghosh
Originally from Bangladesh, Tonmoy is completing Masters in Economics at Memorial University.

Bangladesh is a riverine country where fish is a popular supplement to rice in the national diet, giving rise to the adage Maache-Bhate Bangali ("A Bengali is made of fish and rice"). Also, Bangladesh is regarded as one of the most suitable regions for fisheries with the most extensive flooded wetland and the third largest aquatic biodiversity in Asia after China and India.

In Bangladesh, small-scale fisheries play a vital role in the livelihood, food, and nutrition security of millions of population, both in inland and marine waters. However, the contribution of small-scale fisheries us not in focus and they face a number of hurdles.

I wish I could learn the essential techniques to manage small-scale fishery of different regions of the world, which would be the impetus for sustainable management of small-scale fishery in my country. Finally, I would like to thank Too Big To Ignore for its novel initiative to support the students during this global pandemic and create an opportunity to learn about the fascinating topics.

Nicko Johnson 
Nicko was born and raised on the beautiful island of Jamaica. He is currently pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Arts (Economics) with the aim of starting the MA Economics this Fall.

Before joining this project, I honestly did not pay much attention to fisheries, despite it being such a major part of my upbringing. As an islander, seafood has always been an important part of my diet. It may be interesting to note that Jamaica has one of the highest levels of fish consumption per capita in the Americas. Artisanal fisheries generally serve the domestic market, and remains socially and economically important in Jamaica. Reef-related fisheries support approximately 20 000 active fishers, most of whom are artisanal, thus providing coastal communities with an important "safety net" of food and employment in times of need. Despite, its importance, I never stopped to consider the impact COVID-19 might have on the fisheries.

Therefore, it has been an eye-opening experience so far in discovering stories about the severity of the impact this pandemic has on fishing communities across different countries. The biggest take away as an aspiring economist is that it is important for policy-makers to consider every element of a society and to understand to a great extent how those elements work and the interconnectedness among those economic elements. This is important in crisis management in order to ensure the livelihood all is protected.

Elaheh Vaziri
Elaheh is currently completing Master's degree in environmental system engineering and management at Memorial University. She got her bachelor's degree as well as her first master's degrees in her home country of Iran. She is passionate and driven and likes to "always set goals for myself, so I have something to strive toward."

Iranian fisheries include the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf Seas, inland water fisheries, and aquaculture. They are the supplier of protein for the nation and employ thousands of people.

Before I joined this project, I was not so familiar with fisheries but over the past three weeks, I have learned a lot. From what I can tell, small-scale fishers are mostly self-employed and they tend to be firmly rooted in local communities; by learning about these industries we can help them grow.

 Since I live in St. John's, where fishery is an important industry, I am eager to gain knowledge in different arias of the fishery industry and grow my skills for my future career as an Environmental Manager. I would like to learn about fisheries' environmental impacts and try to implement what I learned in university in a practical way and figure out how we can make this industry more sustainable. 

Aminul Haque
Originally from Bangladesh, Aminul is currently enrolled in the Master of Philosophy program at Memorial University.

Because I come from a river irrigated country, fisheries and fishers are two common words to me. However, working in this project has given me a vivid idea about different aspects of fisheries, especially the small-scale fisheries that most local fishers depend on in my country, which was alien to me.

Most people in our country live in rural areas and rely on fish caught by local fishermen. Despite their contribution to meeting a significant part of national food demand, small-scale fishers are one of the neglected groups in society. The profession of fishing is often underestimated, and people associated with it are deprived of social values. They also struggle to compete with commercial fisheries regarding market access resulting in low profit and miserable lifestyles at the end of the day.

Learning about small-scale fisheries is an excellent achievement of my student life as I have a passion for working for the underprivileged people of my country in the future. I hope I can apply the knowledge gained from this project to improving small-scale fisheries in my country. This experience will enhance my enthusiasm for fisheries further and motivate me to get engaged in more projects related to small-scale fisheries.


Marzana Monefa
Marzana is a Bangladeshi who spent most of her life in Saudi Arabia. She is currently enrolled in a MSc program in Biochemistry at Memorial University where she's studying the underlying molecular mechanism of atherosclerosis development.

My paternal grandfather was a fishery officer and I have heard a lot about his lifelong experiences. But I didn't have current knowledge regarding the lucrative fishery industries before working at this project. I have been assigned to research about Canadian fisheries, and I have already learned a great deal about them. So far, I have seen most stories to focus on large-scale fishery plants rather than small-scale fisheries. All I can say, small-scale fisheries are a neglected group and should have a voice to reach out for help.

I am so glad I got the opportunity to work with Dr. Chuenpagdee. She explained to us that the goal of this project is to see the difference in security and the financial crisis faced between large-scale fisheries and small-scale fisheries. With the collaborated effort, this research aims to help the most destitute fisheries community around the world... Just like she is helping us, international students, by giving us employment during COVID-19. I feel blessed to be part of such novel work. I hope everyone stays safe and is able to cope with the economic crisis now and ahead.


Eric Opoku
Originally from Ghana, Eric is currently studying economics at Memorial University. His research interest is in Health, Resource and Environmental Economics.

I am currently working on 'Whale Conservation in Newfoundland' so I knew about fisheries prior to starting this project. The fisheries sector in my country creates lots of jobs for the active labour force and it is my desire that the government undertake policies to improve the sector. I am always intrigued to learn about small-scale fisheries or fisheries in general. I love to eat fish and I believe they are wonderful creatures. [During this project], I hope to learn more about the fisheries industries in most countries and also sharpen my already acquired research skills.


Hoda Tafvizi 
Hoda is enrolled in a PhD Civil-Environmental Engineering program at Memorial University. She completed her MSc and undergraduate studies in her home country of Iran. Her PhD thesis is about efficient methods of water treatment for decreasing disinfection by-products, using Newfoundland and Labrador waters as a case study.

Fishing industry is of high importance in my home country as we have two long coastlines, both on the north and south. Besides, many people in the coastal areas are earning their livelihood by working for large-scale or small-scale fisheries. 

Before joining the SSF research group, I did not know anything about fisheries. Aquaculture and fishing is an extensive area of study that I have never thought about! Now I am learning about the problems in the fishing industry and especially about the obstacles for small-scale fishing sector.

Mostafa Pic-2

Mostafa El Halimi 
Mostafa is pursuing a Master of Environmental Science at Memorial University where his research project assesses the environmental impacts of oil spills from the marine shipping activities in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is originally from Tangier, Morocco.

A significant part of my academic career was mostly focused on fisheries technology and fisheries management. I did a bachelor of fisheries, which allowed me to work on board of merchant marine and factory ships as a deck officer.

Fisheries in Morocco sustains the livelihood of thousands of people... From my experience, I can say that the safety standards are high, and each boat is assigned a quota based on the area where fishing activities take place. The major issue that we have is related to factory vessels, which do not respect the environmental laws and cause a fast depletion of our fish stocks.

I find learning about the policies that pertain to small-scale fisheries very interesting, particularly the similarities between fisheries policies in different countries. It is, however, challenging to get a holistic idea about the laws and policies that govern small-scale fisheries, as they are not explicitly defined.

Originally, I was supposed to undertake an internship in the spring semester to gain experience as a research assistant/analyst in my field of study but due to the outbreak of COVID19, most of these internships were cancelled. I am glad that I got this opportunity that matches my research interest and will add a significant value to my resume.