Ussif Rashid Sumaila

Professor

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Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Freedom from the fortress : the role of human rights in marine conservation (2018)

Globally, marine resources are in decline, and urgent action is required. However, conservation measures must account for the needs of small-scale fishers, who depend on the sea for food and employment, or else be beset by conflict, resistance and international censure. Yet, attempts by international environmental NGOs (“ENGOs”) to provide conservation and development benefits simultaneously have had limited success. As the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (“SSF-Guidelines”) shine a spotlight on small-scale fishers’ human rights, I explore the role of human rights in improving outcomes of marine conservation for fishers and fish.To date, high-level commitments to human rights by ENGOs have made little real difference to their work. To address this, I define the elements of a human rights-based approach to marine conservation, including practical guidelines for implementation by ENGOs. I then review the economic basis for the approach, distinguishing it from the more familiar property rights-based fisheries management. I describe how the two approaches may complement each other, by reducing the vulnerability and discount rates of many small-scale fishers whilst limiting profit-seeking, non-cooperative behaviour. I also contribute empirical evidence on the relationship between human rights and conservation/ development outcomes by evaluating the initiatives of an ENGO, Blue Ventures, in south-west Madagascar. I show that respect for and fulfilment of select human rights can enhance ENGO-community relations and improve socioeconomic conditions, but also increase fishing pressure in the short term. To reduce vulnerability and enhance resource stewardship, a comprehensive and systematic human rights-based approach is required. Attention to overriding principles, especially equality, highlights how schemes to incentivize conservation could be more effective if ENGOs were proactive in protecting small-scale fishers’ human rights against powerful corporate and state interests. This thesis begins to address the critical need for evidence to determine if, and how, realisation of human rights can enable sustainable small-scale fisheries. In doing so, it describes a role for ENGOs in implementing the SSF-Guidelines. By critically evaluating their own impact on small-scale fishers’ human rights, and influencing other key players to do the same, they can advance marine conservation that is genuinely supportive of small-scale fishers.

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The economic viability of small-scale fisheries (2017)

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) provide food and jobs for millions of people worldwide and therefore contribute to the wellbeing of many coastal communities. However, there is concern that the benefits they generate may dwindle to nothing because they are currently threatened by overfishing, climate change, industrialization and global market shifts. SSF are politically and economically marginalized as well as understudied. I argue that understanding the economic viability of SSF will help address these challenges. Currently, the definition of economic viability is incoherent and often equated with financial viability, where profitability is the sole goal. However, SSF are complex dynamic systems whose goal is not always only profit but also social wellbeing and the maintenance of livelihoods play essential roles. Therefore, I define economic viability as the achievement of non-negative net benefits to society over time. Here I determine the difference between financial and economic viability as the distortion created by the provision of fisheries subsidies. Therefore, I carried out a first global bottom-up assessment that splits subsidy amounts into those received by small- and large-scale fisheries. My analysis suggests that only 16% of global subsidies reach SSF despite their global importance. This disproportionate division of subsidies impairs the economic viability of already vulnerable SSF. Next I compute what I denote as basic economic viability of SSF using Mexican fisheries as an example. Results suggest that decreasing fishing effort, reducing capacity-enhancing subsidies and improving monitoring and management can lead to increased economic viability of SSF.To understand the underlying dynamics of economic viability, I extended the economic viability approach and included assessments of economic impacts, employment and food security aspects into the study. Taking these attributes into account, results indicate that SSF are more important to society and have a more positive prognosis for economic viability than their large-scale counterparts.These findings are relevant, not only for Mexican SSF but for SSF worldwide. The results help bridge the current knowledge gap in SSF research essential to policy making and management that would not only improve economic viability but also the sustainability of the fish stocks upon which they rely.

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The value of information for fisheries policy (2015)

For policy-makers and managers, knowing what information to collect is just as important as collecting information. I apply economics-based methods, including the value of information approach, to natural resource management in order to identify new optimal policies and priority areas for investment. Explicitly incorporating uncertainty is key to these methods, both in formally acknowledging alternative hypothesis and strategies, and for selecting policies that are most robust to uncertainty about natural and social systems. Given their differences in objectives and current challenges, I develop and apply methods to both developing and developed marine fisheries. In Mexico, for example, I estimate that total fish catch over the last fifty years could be almost twice that reported in official data. This ‘informal’ catch reduces economic benefits from fisheries output, including informal processing and sales that add less value to production. Based on current monitoring investment and informal catch rates, I estimate that this represents an almost US$1 billion annual loss in foregone economic impacts, that could be partially gained by an annual investment of US$100 million to increase formalization of current catch. The benefits of assessing information value are not limited to developing fisheries or “data-poor” contexts. Linking ecosystem models with economic data and frameworks, I estimate that the supporting service value of forage fishes as food for other fished species vastly outweighs their yearly landed value (in the Southern Baja California Peninsula, US$180 million compared to US$62 million). For the California Current, which includes Mexico, the US and Canada, I couple game-theoretic and ecosystem models and find that moving beyond single-species valuation supports arguments for sustainable fishing of forage fishes, and creates incentives for cooperative fishing strategies across a range of climate scenarios. Aside from developing new and broadly applicable methods and frameworks, the overarching finding of this work is that it is always beneficial to formally and openly acknowledge uncertainty and alternative management strategies in natural resource assessments. This allows us to provide robust advice to policy-makers given, and not stymied by, uncertainty.

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Global fisheries economics in the face of change in climate (2014)

Climate change and changes in biogeochemical conditions of the ocean lead to changes in distribution of marine species and ocean productivity. These changes would affect fisheries, food security, livelihood of fishing communities and eventually the whole economy in different countries. This thesis uses simulation modelling to assess the direct impacts of change in physical and biogeochemical conditions of the ocean on marine fisheries and the socio-economic implications at both global and regional scales. I develop a new global database of fishing cost, and provide an overview of current fishing cost patterns at national, regional, and global scales. The outcomes lay the foundation for the subsequent economic analysis in the thesis, and should also be useful for other future fisheries economic studies. Using these results and other data from the Sea Around Us Project, I estimate the change in landings of over 800 species of fish within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) under climate change scenarios based on dynamic bioclimate envelope model (DBEM), and an empirical model. About 75% of EEZs are projected to show declines in landings under the Special Report on Emission Scenario (SRES) A2. Most of them are in developing countries, which are socio-economically more vulnerable to climate change. In West Africa, which is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, our model projects that there will be a reduction in landings in the 2050s, with some countries experiencing declines of more than 50% under the “business-as-usual” scenario. This substantial decline not only affects the food supply and security in the region, but also has a negative impact on employment opportunities and the downstream economic impact on the whole society. I also analyze how change in climate and ocean acidity under scenarios of anthropogenic CO₂ emission is expected to affect the economics of marine fisheries in the Arctic region. My model only projected a slight decrease in catch potential of marine fish and invertebrates under the impact of ocean acidification in the 2050s. Future studies accounting for the synergistic effects among climate change, ocean acidification and other factors on marine ecosystems are needed.

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Bioeconomics of Fraser River sockeye salmon fisheries (2013)

Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Fraser River are immensely important to British Columbia's culture and economy. Despite centuries of exploitation and decades of intensive study there remain several key uncertainties about the biological system, including those around dramatic four-year cycles of abundance and pre-season projections of how many fish will return in a given year. Recent years have seen declines in the productivity of some stocks as well as broader conservation concerns, leading to closure of some commercial fisheries, and it appears that greater economic benefits may only be obtained if greater conservation risks are incurred. However, the existing literature contains no analysis focused on bioeconomic analysis of trade-offs between economic and conservation objectives in such complex multi-stock, multi-fleet fisheries.This dissertation develops a bioeconomic simulation model to examine these trade-offs. The model is applied to the Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery and parameterized using historical biological, fishery and economic data. In the first set of analyses, the fishery is simulated retrospectively from 1952 through 1998 and the economic outcomes of several management strategies are examined. In the remaining analyses the fishery is simulated 24 years into the future in a prospective analysis, assuming either that the long-term average productivity regime is still valid, or that recently observed changes in productivity are permanent. Given the outcomes of these simulations the trade-offs between economic benefits and conservation risk are described.The retrospective analysis showed that if relatively simple harvest rules had been implemented historically, the fishery could have been 20-200% more profitable, depending on the particular harvest rule applied and the mechanism underlying stock dynamics. The prospective analysis under the long-term average productivity regime found that there is a policy region that would yield significantly greater economic benefits than the currently applied policy while only minimally increasing conservation risk. Under the modified productivity regime, however, conservation risk is uniformly and unavoidably higher, and the trade-offs become more difficult in the sense that relatively more conservation risk must be incurred to obtain greater economic benefit.

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Five not so easy pieces : globalization of fishing and seafood markets (2013)

Over the past 60 years, the world’s marine fisheries have more than quadrupled their total output from 20 million t to around 80 million t. Yet, a closer examination of the catch statistics, as conducted in this thesis, reveals that this increase was achieved by geographical expansion of the global fisheries from the coastal waters off North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific to the waters in the Southern Hemisphere and into the high seas. The globalization of fisheries coincides with the globalization of seafood markets and an analysis of trade statistics carried out in this dissertation indicates net flows of marine fisheries resources into the markets of the EU, Japan and USA with their “consumption footprints” covering most of the world’s ocean. Recognizing the global limit to growth, various international initiatives have been launched in recent years to improve the state of world’s marine fisheries. This thesis examines fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organization and its failure to reach an agreement, despite a general consensus that some forms of fisheries subsidies contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. The failure of the WTO negotiations exposes the difficulties of overcoming the status quo in fisheries. This thesis argues that improvements in our understanding of the states of world fisheries and their values and economic contributions are critical to achieving meaningful political actions. As such, the thesis explores two approaches for enhancing existing fisheries statistics. First, a new methodology for predicting the values of seafood across various national markets was developed, allowing improved economic evaluations of fisheries resources and the fisheries industry. Second, a recently developed catch-reconstruction method was applied to the fisheries of Japan to examine the scale of previously ignored components of marine fisheries catch even in countries where fisheries are generally considered to be data-rich. The two approaches presented, jointly, should enable the development of a more comprehensive picture of the state of marine fisheries which can then be presented to the public; a picture that, combined with other efforts by fisheries scholars around the world, I hope, will speak loud enough to initiate the transition to sustainable fishing.

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Becoming indigenous : measurable and immeasurable values in ecosystem-based management (2012)

This dissertation follows the trajectory of fisheries management in British Columbia from a period prior to European contact when Aboriginal people encountered limits, learned to live within them and indeed enhance productivity of lands and waters. The diversity of ecological contexts and human experience created a rich diversity of eco-social-spiritual communities, sustained by the interweaving of scientific, economic, social, spiritual and aesthetic values. Since then, fisheries managed primarily for commodity value have depleted marine life, while the growth of other economic sectors has transformed ‘fisheries’ from a mainstay of culture and existence to a tiny fraction of BC’s economy as measured by GDP. Globally, depletion and chronic undervaluing have prompted leading marine scientists, conservationists and others to call for a sea or ocean ethic. A literature review reveals a strong public demand for inclusion of immeasurable values between the lines of the ecological economics literature and in declarations from leading scientists and world religions, but there is no coherent way to implement it. A research project using Q methodology indicates that the public demand for inclusion of a spiritual dimension holds for a wide cross-section of people engaged in the governance, management and use of BC’s marine environment. The dissertation outlines a concept of the secular sacred based on a spirituality of dedicated attention to relationships. Dedicated attention confers the knowledge to enhance relationships that contribute to flourishing and unravel those that are destructive. The secular sacred can draw on the moral authority of science to report objectively on large-scale relationships, the moral authority of Aboriginal and local people at local scale, the moral authority of ordinary people committed to flourishing of people, species and places, the moral authority of religion in terms of gratitude, generosity, compassion, love and justice and the moral authority of artists who can represent complexity and tension and point ways to sustainability which words cannot. Drawing on multiple sources of knowledge and authority without belonging to any of them, the secular sacred opens the door to transformative change in and beyond British Columbia.

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Discount rates, small-scale fisheries, and sustainability (2012)

In the face of overexploited and declining fisheries worldwide, a question that is central to the future sustainability of fisheries resources is how willing are fishers to sacrifice their current fishery benefits in order to be able to enjoy higher benefits in the future? Fishers’ rate of time preference, or discount rate, indicates how willing they are to delay current consumption, and is the primary topic of investigation in this thesis. I aim to answer three research questions, focusing on small-scale reef fisheries in developing countries: 1) what is the discount rate of fishers?; 2) what socio-economic conditions predict low discounting behaviour among fishers?; and 3) are discount rates reflective of the exploitation status of fisheries? I use an experimental economics approach to elicit fishers’ discount rates in Sabah (Malaysia) and Fiji, and then use regression analysis to identify the predictors of low discount rates. Further, I integrate economic and ecological concepts to infer fishers’ private discount rates, as well as to explore whether discount rates are representative of fisheries exploitation status. My main findings are that, first, small-scale reef fishers have high discount rates, with a plausible average annual range of 100 to 300%. This appears to apply to fishers in both open access (Sabah), as well as traditionally managed (Fiji) reef fisheries. There is a surprisingly larger proportion of fishers with low discount rates in the open access, compared to the traditionally managed fishery. Second, site and fishery level variables predict low discount rates among fishers, but the effect is different depending on the local socio-economic context. Overall however, it is not clear what specific site level dynamics contribute to the lower observed discount rates in Sabah. Lastly, I find that official discount rates that are used for policy making appear to be too low to fully reflect the short term outlook of reef fishers. Fishers’ higher private discount rates may be more likely to capture the exploitations status, and may be more appropriate to use for evaluating policies that affect fishers’ current and future fishing activities.

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Improving the management of global and regional tuna fisheries (2012)

Tuna can travel thousands of kilometers throughout their lifetime, and are often found in the waters of several nations and the high seas. These ``straddling stocks" are difficult to manage due to competition between the large number of interested fishing nations, all of which can be asymmetric in their economies, management capacity and conservation concerns. This is compounded by the possibility of new members and free riders. It is no surprise then, that tuna fisheries management has, by and large, been unsuccessful in promoting sustainable fisheries. Populations of several of the world's tuna species are fully or over-exploited. This dissertation identifies and addresses areas where improvements in the management of global and regional tuna fisheries may facilitate the continued contribution of these fisheries to livelihoods and food security.I analyze private and social resource rent derived from fishing for different tuna species and by different gear types. From these results I identify key management targets. Management efforts are formalized through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), groups which are mandated to promote cooperative agreements and fair and equitable allocation approaches. Stable cooperative agreements, however, have been hard to come by for tuna RFMOs, in part because the issue of allocations has not been appropriately targeted. I propose a combined socio-economic and ecological approach formulated from the perspective of fisheries benefits, as opposed to just catch, which could facilitate stable cooperative agreements for sustaining tuna stocks into the distant future.Tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific provide over half of the world's tuna, but lack of effective management capacity in Indonesia and the Philippines threatens the sustainability of these fisheries. I argue that countries that fish in this region, most specifically Papua New Guinea, would be wise to help facilitate improved management capacity in these countries. One of the major management challenges in this region is the bycatch of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the skipjack purse seine fishery. Through applied game-theoretic modelling, I conclude that reduction in juvenile bycatch brought about by cooperative management of these fisheries would provide long-term ecological and economic benefits.

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Transboundary management of a fish stock under climate variability : the case of Pacific sardine in the California current ecosystem (2010)

The time variant/asymmetric distribution of a fish stock caused by ocean climate variability is one of the challenges that must be overcome to establish cooperative management of a transboundary fish stock. Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) exhibits extreme decadal variability in its abundance and geographic distribution that corresponds to water temperature regime shifts within the California Current Ecosystem. It is a transboundary fish stock and targeted by Mexican, American and Canadian fisheries, and the three countries do not currently have a cooperative management arrangement. This thesis explores the economic and conservation consequences of non-cooperative management, and the potential benefits of full/partial cooperative management of Pacific sardine, and studies the stability of cooperative management under ocean climate variability. The core of the thesis is presented in Chapters 2-4, with an introduction given in Chapter 1 and a conclusion in Chapter 5. Appendix A and B provide background information on Pacific sardine and the Pacific sardine fishery, respectively. Chapter 2 develops a three-agent bioeconomic framework to investigate the impact of ocean climate variability on stock abundance and geographic distribution. A game theoretic analysis was conducted to evaluate the conservation and economic benefits of various management strategies. The results show that under a regime of ocean climate variability, a country having a dominate share of the resource within its waters cannot achieve effective unilateral conservation for optimal economic benefits due to the actions of free-riders. Chapter 3 conducts simulations to evaluate the stability of full and partial cooperative management of Pacific sardine under various climate variability scenarios. The results show that in all scenarios, ocean climate variability is an obstacle to the formation of stable, fully-cooperative management of Pacific sardine fisheries as operated by the three countries. Chapter 4 estimates the cost of delaying cooperative management of this fishery, and how costs are incurred due to such delays. The results suggest that the cost of delaying cooperative management is significant for a country having a dominant share, while countries that have minor shares gain economic benefits from delaying cooperative management.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Socio-economic contribution of small-scale and large-scale fisheries in British Columbia (2017)

No abstract available.

Examining distribution and concentration of access in British Columbia's salmon and herring fisheries (2014)

There is a growing awareness of the need to incorporate social goals into fisheries management, alongside ecological and economic aspects. Distribution of fisheries resources is increasingly included in social objectives of equity and fairness, such as those outlined in the 2003 FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. Concentration of fisheries access is an important aspect of distribution of benefits from the resource, and in Pacific Canada, the fish processing industry was limited to 12% ownership of fishing assets in the late 1970s. With that in mind, this thesis addressed the current extent of concentration of fisheries licenses in the Pacific salmon and herring fisheries, and examines trends in concentration over the past twenty years. Previous studies have assessed ‘corporate’ concentration only through vertical integration, whereby a fish processor owns the fishing license. However, this thesis develops more comprehensive criteria for inclusion in this category that included those who hold licenses but do not operate the asset (“license investors”), in addition to assessing other group’s license ownership patterns. Fisheries license data were obtained from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), while data on fish processing licenses were obtained from the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture. From these data sets, four different license owner types were identified: fish processors, “license investors”, Aboriginal (or First Nations) groups, and independent owner-operators. Corporate records from the Statistics Canada Inter-Corporate Ownership data and the British Columbia Corporate Registry Services were obtained to track subsidiary operations and amalgamations or dissolutions, and then cross-referenced with the DFO license lists. The license lists were then analyzed for changes in the percent holding by these groups over the twenty-year period using a relational database. The results reveal that concentration is increasing in the fisheries examined, and proportionally, fish processors have exceeded their limits on fisheries license ownership in some fisheries since the earliest years under investigation here. As well, more subtle forms of fisheries license concentration may be occurring through “license investors”. Finally, the implications of the findings are discussed in the wider context of fisheries sustainability, with some recommendations for addressing distribution of fisheries access going forward.

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Global revenues from wild seafood products (2012)

The present study quantifies the revenues generated by marine seafood in the retail and restaurant sectors. Also, since one third of total marine catch is used to produce fishmeal, revenues generated by this commodity were calculated based on the percentage of meat products that originated from fishmeal inclusion in compound-feed formulas. In total, wild seafood products generated revenues of US $318 billion in the year 2005. To arrive at this estimate I first developed a global database of seafood retail revenues, which is used to analyze fish retail values per tonne at the regional and global level. This database includes 192 maritime and non-maritime countries. The findings are that in 2005, revenues, from wild marine seafood in the retail sector alone reached US $210 billion. Revenue from seafood restaurants were calculated based on estimations of country GDP expenditures in the hotel and restaurant sector. By analyzing the data on 30 countries (US and EU countries) where primary data on restaurants and hotel were reported separately, I estimate that on average, in the US and the EU countries where data is available, 43 percent of revenues from hotels and restaurants are attributable to restaurant sales. Wild seafood restaurant sales represented 17-25% of global restaurant sales generating revenues of US $94 billion. Finally, in order to estimate the revenues from the fishmeal sector, calculations were made based on farmed fish and animal meats, which include fishmeal in their compound feed preparation. Revenues derived from animal and fish meats were calculated based on their FCR (food conversion ratios) and inclusion rates of fishmeal for each species. I estimate that US$14 billion were generated by the inclusion of fishmeal in meat products.

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The economic benefits of ecosystem-based marine recreation : implications for management and policy (2010)

Even as global fisheries are in decline, participation in ecosystem-based marinerecreational activities (MRAs), defined here as recreational fishing, whale watching anddiving, has increased around the world, adding a new dimension to human use of the marine ecosystem and another good reason to strengthen marine ecosystem management measures worldwide. After compiling available data for maritime countries,a meta-analysis was used to estimate the yearly global benefits of the largest MRAs. Results suggest that 121 million people a year participate in MRAs, generating 47 billion USD in expenditures and supporting one million jobs. Aside from offering the first global estimation of socioeconomic benefits from MRAs, this work provides insights on their drivers of participation and possible ecological impacts. In the case of whale watching, potential benefits are estimated for maritime countries that do not currently engage in this industry based on ecological and socio-economic criteria. Results suggest that whale watching could generate an additional 413 million USD in yearly revenue, supporting 5,700 additional jobs; this would bring the total potential benefits from the global whalewatching industry to over 2.5 billion USD in yearly revenue, supporting 19,000 jobs.Recreational fishing is the largest MRA in the world, and can be a vital component of regional economies. Using available fisheries and ecosystem data, an Ecopath model was used to explore the ecological and economic effects of specific fisheries management measures in Baja California Sur, Mexico, particularly regarding longlining effort reductions and billfish bycatch. Results suggest that currently mandated policies will have little effect on marlin abundance in the area. The effects of ecosystem dynamics in an alreadyoverfished system must not be overlooked, as they can negate or even reverse desired outcomes from management. All results are discussed from an economic and conservation policy perspective, with emphasis on potential benefits and limitations.

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