Anna Schuhbauer is a PhD candidate with the Fisheries Economic Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Anna’s career as a fisheries scientist started with the German Fisheries Department in Hamburg in 2002. She has worked in northern Peru, finished her MSc at the University of Bremen in Germany, moved on to work in the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department and then in the Charles Darwin Foundation on the Galapagos Islands. Anna has published her work in peer reviewed journals such as Marine Biology and Fisheries Research. After her work in Galapagos, which focussed mainly on the ecological aspects of fisheries, she decided to study global fisheries economics, focussing on small-scale fisheries and their economic viability. Her PhD is funded by TBTI and her research work is part of the TBTI “Economic Viability” research cluster.
The term economic viability, in general, refers to performance measures of an economic system such as financial performance, cash flow or simply profit. Anna’s work on this issue started with finding a clear description of economic viability for small-scale fisheries, which led to her defining economic viability as the net benefit to society from small-scale fisheries over time. Anna is leading the development of an indicator-based framework for assessing economic viability of small-scale fisheries. Her research is being carried out on a global scale with the goal of further understanding economic viability of small-scale fisheries worldwide. The framework is being developed in a way that would allow it to be applied at smaller scales including at the local level. She is also focusing on the socio-economic aspects of small-scale fisheries and how they, along with the economic aspects, shape the economic viability of these fisheries.
We asked Anna a couple of questions about her work and this is what she told us:
What are you currently working on within the context of SSF?
AS: My PhD research is split into chapters, with the objective of better understanding and assessing economic viability of small-scale fisheries. I am currently focussing on estimating how much of the total subsidies that are provided to the fishing sector globally actually reach the small-scale fishing sector. We already know that some subsidies can be very harmful to fisheries, for example, capacity-enhancing subsidies can foster overexploitation especially for already overfished stocks. As small-scale fisheries often face marginalization from policy making and management procedures, understanding how subsidies really impact them is an important step towards assessing their long term survival or economic viability.
If you could single out one or two most significant factors for securing sustainability of SSF, what would these factors be?
AS: In my opinion, first the local governance structure within the fishing community needs to be functioning well, meaning that fishing people understand policies in place and how they affect their livelihoods, and that they are then given opportunities to get involved in policy and the management decision making process. Second, the fisheries need to be economically viable, in the sense that they should not be losing money while fishing and that net benefits from the fishery are fairly distributed within the fishing community.