Mirella de Oliveira Leis is a Research Assistant with Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. She has started her career as an Oceanographer at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, and moved on to pursue her recently earned Masters’ degree in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, sponsored by TBTI. She has always been fascinated by the ocean and the knowledgeable people who make a living out of this constantly changing environment. She is particularly interested in exploring how to balance marine conservation objectives with maintenance of small-scale fishing livelihoods. Her masters’ research focused on identifying challenges and opportunities to MPA implementation by analyzing them as an integrated natural, social, and governing system, dependent on stakeholder support. She worked towards understanding the importance of the ocean and coastal areas to small-scale fishers while developing strategies and a participatory mapping approach to increase small-scale fishers’ participation in MPA designation and management plan development. She is now interested in networking and further developing her skills and knowledge of small-scale fisheries, MPAs and participatory mapping, towards building her career and contributing to ocean and coastal governance.
Q1: What are you currently working on within the context of SSF?
As a Research Assistant with Too Big To Ignore, I’ve been focusing on the gathering and analysis of global information on small-scale fisheries from TBTI’s data repository and contributing members with the aim of disseminating SSF knowledge. I am going to be particularly involved in helping develop and edit an e-book for the “SSF Diverse Values” cluster, by actively recruiting experts in SSF to contribute with information in a collaborative effort, and organizing information in a visually appealing publication. I’ve also been involved in communication and outreach, by designing informational material about the partnership to be distributed at conferences, meetings and the COP 22. Another current work involves providing assistance on event organization and promotion, with the upcoming World Fisheries Day to be held at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Q2: If you could single out one or two most significant factors in securing the sustainability of SSF, what would these be?
First, there is a need to acknowledge the global contribution of small-scale fishers to livelihoods, food security, local markets and economy, employment, social well-being, culture and marine conservation through environmental stewardship. This is achieved by conducting research and disseminating information on these different aspects that make small-scale fisheries “too big to ignore”, which is what TBTI has been focusing on through its research clusters. Once the role and importance of small-scale fisheries have been acknowledged globally, it is essential to focus on providing the means and enabling tools to make possible for small-scale fishing communities ensure their rights and the continuance of their livelihoods in a sustainable way. I believe we need to work towards learning from small-scale fishers’ knowledge and enhancing their participation in science and decision-making by recognizing their role in marine conservation and sustainability.