Current students

Melanie Ang

Changing Ocean Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia.

Dr. William Cheung.

Study location:
Pacific North America.

Start and end date: Fall 2016 –.

Thesis title: Adaptability of small-scale fisheries to climate change: a regional study of Pacific North America .

My research project will explore the impacts of climate change on small-scale fisheries along the Pacific region of North America in terms of catch, species distributions, profits and the scope of risk-reduction through adaptation. Specifically, the study will examine how selectivity (fishing gear) and cost intensity (ex-vessel price and effort-related cost) of small-scale fisheries may affect their coping strategies to climate change.

Joana Correia

University of Manitoba,
Natural Resources Institute .

Dr. Derek Johnson & Dr. Fikret Berkes.

Study location:
Fuzeta (Algarve, Southeastern of Portugal).

Start and end date: Fall 2014 –.

Thesis title: The governance of octopus fishery in Southeastern of Portugal.

The governance of the Portuguese octopus fishery follows a top-down approach, which does not consider all social and cultural aspects of the fishery. Moreover, as it is the case for other small-scale fisheries, its governance is not being examined through a contextual lens. The purpose of my study is to understand how is the octopus fishery in Fuzeta, which is a fishing village in South of Portugal, different from other places and to which degree is legal pluralism present. To consider and recognize all social and cultural aspects that are currently absent from Portuguese governance arrangements, this study will focus on the application of concepts developed by Too Big Too Ignore (TBTI), a global collaborative research network that investigates and records small-scale fisheries social and cultural contributions. To contextualize the octopus fishery, as to reach a better future for the fishery, this study will draw on the legal pluralism concept.

Eva Coronado

Laboratory of Fisheries CINVESTAV-Mérida
Department of Marine Resources.

Dr. Silvia Salas Márquez .

Study location:
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

Start and end date of your study: Fall 2014 –.

Thesis title: Integral assessment of small-scale fisheries in the Yucatan Peninsula: Management implications.

My study focuses on evaluating the small-scale fisheries in Yucatan Peninsula based on integral approach and considering three components: a regional typology (considering fleet characteristics), target species, and social organization. I will analyze the social and economic benefits of fishing trips given the contribution of different species and understand the value chain of two species. Additionally, I will learn about actors and factors involved and the level of benefits each one has on the value chain. Finally, will try to understand what the relationships between the stakeholders and the institutions responsible for governance in Yucatan Peninsula.

Neil Ladell

Simon Fraser University.

Evelyn Pinkerton.

Study location:
British Colombia.

Start and end date: Fall 2012 –.

Thesis title: Addressing social and economic components of aboriginal clam fisheries management rights in British Columbia


Miguel Lorenzi 

Memorial University of Newfoundland .

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee .

Study location:

Start and end date: Fall 2015 – .

Thesis title: Architecture of small-scale fishing boats: keeping sustainability afloat  .

In recent decades, fisheries have been going through major changes. Following the large social movement of 19th and 20th centuries towards an industrialized society, the fisheries sector began to incorporate technological innovations. New building materials, engines, and hydraulics, electronics, and propulsions systems were developed and integrated into fisheries in order to increase the fish production and met the demand of the global market. Thus, the design and characteristics of the fishing vessels have changed enormously to accommodate this process of mechanization. Resulting in the arising of small, yet somehow, industrialized fishing boats. However, the process of integration of new technologies by small fishing boats and its impact on the characteristics of the boats has been only partially blueprinted or documented leaving a major gap in knowledge about the architecture features of small-scale fishing boats and its role in promoting environmental, social and economic sustainability. The purpose of my research is to critically analyze architectural features of fishing boats in order to recommend a combination of technical characteristics capable to cluster contemporary small-scale fishing boats into a novel typology. Such categorization can help to better define small-scale fisheries sector and to enhance our understanding of the scale-related differences within the small-scale sector that can contribute to increasing sustainability in fisheries.

Brennan Lowery

brennan picAffiliation:
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Interdisciplinary PhD Program

. Supervisor:
Dr. Kelly Vodden, Environmental Policy Institute
Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Department of Geography
Dr. Doug May, Department of Economics .

Study Location:
Clarenville-Bonavista Rural Secretariat Region, Newfoundland.

Start and end date of your study:
Winter 2016 –.

Thesis: .

This transdisciplinary study intends to investigate the role of participatory monitoring processes in catalyzing collaborative governance for sustainable development in rural and natural resource dependent communities and regions. A community-based research project, the study is being done in partnership with the Regional Council of the Clarenville-Bonavista Rural Secretariat Region of Newfoundland, a rural region of approximately 28,000 residents. This region includes a number of coastal communities historically dependent on the Northern cod fishery who are now redefining their communities in the face of demographic, economic, and ecological changes. The purpose of this study is twofold: to facilitate a participatory process for monitoring the region’s progress towards an integrated sustainable development vision, and to discover to what extent participatory sustainability monitoring can serve as a catalyst to shared agenda-building and collective action in pursuit of locally appropriate sustainable development in rural and natural-resource dependent regions.

 Joonas Plaan

PhD student in Anthropology .

Dr. Reade Davis.

Study location:
Bay de Verde, NL.

Start and end date: Fall 2014 – .

 Thesis title: Everything changes: Climate change and small-scale fisheries in Newfoundland .

The aim of this study is to do a case study on the current, and potential future contributions, of small-scale fisheries to rural communities in Newfoundland. I am particularly interested in questions of demographic change in the fishery and in the strategies that small-scale fisheries have employed when pressured with increasing capitalization of the fishing sector and adapting to changing policy frameworks, all related to changing environmental conditions.

Wichin Suebpala

Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

Dr. Charoen Nitithamyong, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Dr. Thamasak Yeemin, Ramkhamhaeng University, Thailand.

Study Location:
Mu Ko Chang Archipelago, Trat Province, Thailand.

Start and end date: Summer 2013 – .

Thesis title: Ecological Impacts of Fishing Gears in Ko Chang, Trat Province, Thailand .

Fishing, no matter how it is done, in a small- or a large-scale operation, using fixed or mobile gears, has ecological impacts on fisheries resources. Knowing how different gears operate, what type of impacts they generate, and whether small-scale and large-scale fisheries differ in their impacts is helpful in setting rules and policies. With those concerns of fishing impacts, my work is focusing on addressing the collateral impacts of fishing gears with emphasis on bycatch and habitat damages. The research topic covers various aspects of study including 1) assessing knowledge gaps of fishing gears impacts, 2) investigating bycatch and habitat damages generated from some fishing gears, 3) describing the fishing impacts on macrobenthic communities, and 4) ranking the severity of impacts of fishing gears through damage schedule approach.


 Past Students 


 Chris Baird


Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr. Dean Bavington.

Study location:
Coast of Bays region on the South coast of Newfoundland.

Start and end date: Fall 2013 – Fall 2015.

Thesis title: Analysis of interaction between aquaculture and recreational fisheries in Newfoundland

Rajib Biswal

University of Manitoba
Natural Resources Institute.

Dr. Derek Johnson & Prof. Thomas Henley.

Study location:
Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Start and end date: Fall 2013 – Fall 2015.

Thesis title: Fishing is more than just a livelihood: Wellbeing and small-scale bag net fisheries governance in Gujarat, India .

Fishing is much more than just a livelihood option for the Koli fishers in coastal Gir Somnath, Gujarat. A three dimensional social wellbeing approach was used to explore the socio-cultural dimensions of small-scale bag net fishery where I explored the fish supply chain, the local governance, and how fishers’ perceptions were shaped by bag net fishing. The research was conducted under the guidelines of the “Too Big to Ignore (TBTI): Global Partnership for Small-scale Fisheries Research” project. The main purpose of the TBTI project was to establish a global network to develop research and governance capacity to address different challenges faced by small-scale fishers globally. This research focused on the main theme of working group III on the diverse values of small-scale fisheries.

 Maria Jose Barragan-Paladines

Too Big To Ignore Project .

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee & Dr. Alistair Bath .

Study location:
Dissertation – Galapagos Islands
Currently – Global through TBTI .

Start and end date: Winter 2010 – Spring 2015 .

Thesis title: Exploring Governance of Galapagos Marine Reserve .

Currently, as a Senior Research Fellow of the Too Big to Ignore (TBTI) Project, my work addresses the completion of different activities, mainly within two working groups of the TBTI (WG6 and WG5) and within the project research clusters as well. These clusters regard the Voluntary Guidelines for Small-scale fisheries sustainability, the Fish-as-Food, and Indigenous Fisheries, so far. Additionally I address other TBTI-related activities, which are in need of my support. Through my performance in this global partnership, I have engaged my own research interest, to those of the TBTI project, mainly those about the visiblization of the small-scale fisheries sector, by arguing against their marginalization and by improving the small-scale fisheries profile, especially in the Latin American context.

 Cedric Boisrobert


University of Amsterdam .


Maarten Bavinck .


Thesis title: Analyzing decentralization process in the Philippines

 Shannon Bower

Carleton University

Dr.  Steven Cooke

Study location: Cauvery River, India

Start and end date: Spring 2014 – Fall 2017

Thesis title: Advancing an integrated approach for rapid assessment of data deficient recreational fisheries

Shannon studies the growth of recreational fisheries in developing and emerging economies, an undervalued and understudied sector with enormous potential for both benefit and impact.  In this research, she uses a social-ecological systems approach to understand the biological, social, and economic dynamics of catch-and-release fisheries using a variety of methods to provide fisheries stakeholders with the information they need to manage these target populations sustainably. The mahseer recreational fishery of India is the backbone of this research, and Shannon has fallen under the spell of these remarkable fish and the incredible Cauvery River. Shannon believes there is a pressing need for study of recreational fishing that adopts transdisciplinary and participatory research approaches to address key issues in the sector. Issues such as conflicts situations, concerns regarding fishing rights and subsistence harvest needs, cultural norms related to catch and release practices, and data deficiencies surrounding species-specific responses to typical recreational fishing activities need to be addressed to support sustainable management of fish populations and benefit fishing communities.  

Mirella de Oliveira Leis

Memorial University of Newfoundland .

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee .

Study location:
Marine National Park of Currais Islands
Fishing communities of Pontal do Paraná municipality, Paraná State, Southern Brazil .

Start and end date: Fall 2013 – Spring 2016.

Thesis title: Implementation of Marine Protected Areas as a governability challenge in Southern Brazil.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are endorsed internationally for marine conservation and fisheries management, but implementation is yet challenging to achieve. Small-scale fishers are often excluded from the process, thus generating lack of buy-in and compliance to MPA, which fails in achieving conservation objectives and sometimes generates social impacts and conflict. The Marine National Park of Currais Islands has recently been designated in Southern Brazil without public consultation, and is currently having its management plan developed. Thus, the study aims at identifying challenges and providing guidance on the implementation of this MPA and elsewhere. The research is framed within the Interactive Governance Framework as a lens to analyze the MPA as an institution that governs a both natural and social system-to-be-governed. Through literature review, questionnaires, and an exploratory mapping approach conducted with small-scale fishers from Pontal do Paraná municipality, it explores fishers’ perceptions and identifies some of the key challenges that are to be faced when implementing the MPA.

 Maha El Meseery

University of Regina.

Dr. Orland Hoeber.

Study Location:

Start and end date of study: Fall 2013 – Winter 2015.

Thesis TitleGeo-Coordinated Parallel Coordinates (GCPC): A Case Study of Environmental Data Analysis.

To address Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) global challenges, the management and governance of SSF need effective data analysis and decision support systems.  Such systems should support understanding, reasoning, and analyzing the multiple economic, socio-ecological, and biological factors that contribute to SSF. Visual analytics combines multiple visualizations, intuitive interactions, and automated analysis to support reasoning and understanding about massive amounts of data. In this research, a visual analytics approach called Geo-Coordinated Parallel Coordinates (GCPC) is proposed for exploring within environmental data, such as SSF data. Multiple coordinated visualizations are used to illustrate the high dimensional, heterogeneous, geospatial, and temporal aspects of the data, enabling the user to explore and understand the complex relations in the data.

 George Freduah

University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Dr. Pedro Fidelman and Prof. Tim Smith.

Study location:
West region of Ghana.

Start and end date: Spring 2013 – Spring 2016.

Thesis title: Climate Change and Fisheries in Ghana: Strategies for Building Adaptive Capacity by Small Scale Fishers.

My PhD study contributes to working group 12 of TBTI (Global change responses). It explores adaptive capacity to climate and non-climate stressors in the context of small-scale coastal fisheries in Ghana. It draws upon the capitals and vulnerability frameworks to examine how key stressors combine to affect small-scale coastal fisheries. It also examines how different forms of capital facilitate or constrain adaptive capacity to the key stressors. My study adopts a case study approach, which helps to understand a broader contemporary phenomenon like climate change within a specific social, cultural and economic setting. It uses realities of small-scale coastal fisheries in the Western region of Ghana to explore how adaptive capacity is facilitated or constrained for multiple stressors. This study will advance knowledge in adaptation planning and governance of small-scale fisheries in Ghana and elsewhere.

Joseph Loumba

Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee.

Study location:
Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

Start and end date: Fall 2014 – Summer 2016.

Thesis title: Examining the perennial illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Lake  Victoria  .

My research focuses on examining perennial Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Lake Victoria as a governability problem. IUU fishing has remained a challenge in Lake Victoria fisheries. Many times the alleviation strategies adopted have been unsuccessful in addressing it. In this regard, my study draws from interactive governance theory and governability assessment framework to examine IUU fishing as a ‘wicked’ problem. This kind of examination provides a framework for understanding the diversity, complexity, dynamics and scale of the system to be governed and governing system as well as the interaction between them. The findings of this study feeds into Too Big To Ignore (TBTI), a Global Partnership for Small Scale Fisheries Research Project, mission of developing research ideas and governance capacity to address challenges in small scale fisheries globally.

Bernard Owusu

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dr. Dean Bavington

Study location:
Western region of Ghana

Start and end date: Fall 2015 – Winter 2018

Thesis title: Understanding the conflict between the oil and gas industries and small-scale fisheries in the western region of Ghana 

The enclosure of the Gulf of Guinea ocean space for oil and gas commodification has led to conflicts with small-scale, food fisheries in many coastal towns in the western region of Ghana. The ‘resource curse’ has been used to explain conflicts and other resource development problems in sub-Saharan African states endowed with natural resources. The thesis frames the conflict through the resource curse lens and reveals resource curse tendencies such as corruption and mismanagement of oil rents, and growing inequality in Ghana. However, the resource curse explanation has been critiqued as uncritical, reductionist and above all ahistorical. The toponymical transition from slavery coast, gold coast, ivory coast and now oil and gas coast demonstrates ongoing resource appropriations and exploitation tied to colonial and contemporary state, non-state, and transnational corporate actors. The thesis illustrates that despite heavily commodified resource appropriation along the Western region’s coast since the fifteenth century, oil and gas exploitation is the first commodity frontier to directly appropriate ocean space from fisheries. By tracing the stages of capitalist coastal development through toponymy of maps and images of the region, the thesis also illustrates how the oil and gas exploitation has therefore impacted on food security and sovereignty in a country that has a very high per capita fish consumption rate.

 Chloe Poitevin

Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee.

Study location:
Newfoundland, Canada .

Start and end date: Fall 2013 – Summer 2015.

Thesis title: Exploring food sovereignty and security in Newfoundland

 Victoria Rogers


Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee & Dr. Dean Bavington.

Study location:
Koh Chang, Thailand.

Start and end date: Fall 2013 – Summer 2015.

Thesis title: Synergies for stewardship and governance of multiple-use coastal areas: A case study of Koh Chang, Thailand .

My research looks at the relationships among tourism, fisheries, and conservation coastal activities to explore potential for synergies conducive to governance and environmental stewardship. Koh Chang, an island located in the upper eastern Gulf of Thailand, formed the illustrative case study to explore the concept of synergy. This study argues that greater attention to the positive and mutually supportive relationships, in light of conflicts, is important for informing context-appropriate management strategies that build upon the strengths and capacities of coastal communities. Small-scale fisheries, in particular, are often seen as a threat to conservation efforts when compared to seemingly non-extractive or low-impact tourism activities. However, small-scale fishers were found to have positive connections with both tourism and conservation activities on the island as well as to take part in a variety of conservation activities. Findings support literature suggesting small-scale fishers can play an important role as stewards of coastal ecosystems..

Anna Schuhbauer

Fisheries Economic Research Unit
Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (former Fisheries Center)
University of British Columbia.

Dr. Rashid Sumaila.

Study Location: Global.

Start and end date: Fall 2012 – Winter 2017.

Thesis title: How to strengthen the economic viability of small-scale fisheries globally.

The main objective of this PhD project, as part of the TBTI global initiative, is to define and assess the current economic viability of SSF. This study will demonstrate why economic viability is fundamental to the ability of SSF to withstand the barrage of threats SSF face such as those posed by industrialization, climate change and the use of harmful fisheries subsidies. Fisheries are very complex systems, driven by economic, social, governance and ecosystem variables. While maintaining a comprehensive view, this project will focus on the key components affecting economic viability, using economic and socio-economic attributes. A main goal of my research is to assess the net benefits to society that SSF provides globally. Recommendation for SSF management and policy will be made on how their economic viability can be improved to increase the resilience of small scale fisheries to large processes of change.