OFI Module I Master’s student Lilian Saul completes her studies

This past December Lilian Saul successfully completed her MSc thesis on ‘Pathways to implement the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada'. Lilian has been working under the supervision of Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee as part of the TBTI partner project Ocean Frontier Institute Module I -  Informing Governance Responses in a Changing Ocean.

My research explored the extent to which the characteristics and values of the small boat and inshore sectors are considered in decision making around coastal communities and oceans. Specifically, my research sought to better understand how key principles, recognized as relevant for governing small-scale fisheries worldwide and outlined in the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines), can be implemented in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).

I asked fishers which principles required the most action and attention for implementation into fisheries governance in NL. Not surprisingly, Consultation and participation and Transparency were deemed as the two highest priorities of the 38 small-scale and inshore fishers whose interviews were included in the study. It was, however, a surprise that among all fishers, especially those in the inshore 40-65 ft vessel category, Equity and equality was valued as a top priority. These fishers spoke about inequitable quotas among fleets, gaps in implementing conservation measures for larger industrial-type vessels fishing offshore, and poor access to adjacent resources which have been historically allocated to offshore fleets from other provinces or nations. Human rights and dignity, despite surprising fishers at first glance, was also seen as needing ample attention, and ranked fourth overall. Meanwhile, Gender equity and equality, Social responsibility, Rule of law, and Accountability were all interpreted as needing little attention and being implemented well. As one fisher stated about Accountability, “Fishermen end up in court every year, so we’re definitely held accountable to the law.”

Without the fishing people and communities who supported me as a research student, who took me fishing and fed me fish, this project would not have been possible, as they shared their invaluable expertise and wisdom, and whose generosity, toughness and spirit inspired me to realize Newfoundland as my new home. Currently, I embark on a new journey, continuing to commercial fish, and starting a social enterprise in St. John’s, NL with my good friend and colleague Nova Almine. While our company focuses on artisanal saltfish, processed and caught by sustainable small-scale fishing boats, our first venture involves snow crab this Spring, 2023. While I take courses to obtain my skipper’s ticket this Winter, our business, Roots and Wings Fish Co. is spreading word about our experiment with Direct Sales. There are hundreds of thousands of pounds of snow crab landed in and around St John’s each year—but how many people living in the city have ever seen, or even tasted, the delicacy? Why shouldn’t those living in the metropolitan area gain access to the abundance of ocean resources directly on their back door step? Our first venture is thus all about access, and keeping fisheries benefits not only in the hands of fishers, but in the local area. The small-scale commercial fishing boat I work on will be marketing our crab directly to the people of St. John’s. Roots and Wings is collecting names and contact information so that people can be notified as to when the live, wholesale crab is available on the wharf—customers can come straight to the wharf and buy the crab straight from the fisher-people, with great views and good conversation to go along. If the venture is successful, we plan to donate 1,000 pounds of the live crab to a local non-profit/ charity so that even those with limited resources can take part in the abundance this sea-abiding city on the eastern edge of North America.

Are you local to St John’s? To sign up, email your contact information to Rootsandwingssaltfish@gmail.com.

For updates, check us out on any major social media outlet @RootsandWingsFishCo