Ussif Rashid Sumaila


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Climate change impacts on Canadian fishing and seafood supply (2021)

Climate change is already affecting ocean conditions, including warming, acidification, deoxygenation and sea-level rise. These changes are affecting marine species globally, with subsequent impacts on marine fisheries, peoples’ livelihoods, and food security. The magnitude of these changes are more prevalent in developing nations and tropical countries, yet the risk of climate impacts on developed nations is not negligible. Shifts in stock distribution and fish abundance under climate change could impact seafood available to Indigenous peoples and tens of thousands of other Canadians. Achieving the Paris Agreement target of limiting atmospheric warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels could mitigate projected declines in fish biomass, with benefits for ocean life, economies and people. In this work, I conduct a systematic literature review on the impacts of climate change on Canada's Pacific marine ecosystems and fisheries, highlighting its critical effects on them. I then examine climate impacts on Canada’s marine fisheries and seafood supply under two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios that correspond to alternative futures with global warming of 1.5° and 3.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels. Finally, I conduct a semi-quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of ocean-based solutions in British Columbia to mitigate climate change and reduce its impacts on the marine ecosystems and fisheries of the Province. My results indicate that the 1.5°C warming scenario could protect marine catches directed to Canada’s seafood supply by up to 11% and reduce Canadian household seafood expenditures by US$ 528 million annually, relative to a 3.5°C global warming scenario. The results also show that the full implementation of marine renewable energy in British Columbia could reduce GHG emissions by ~270 MT per year, filling the gap between current emissions and Canada’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce emission by 30% below 2005 levels. While the effectiveness of marine renewables to reduce climate change depends on a global achievement of mitigation targets, solutions such as restoring vegetation, marine protected areas and pollution reduction show potential to address climate impacts locally (e.g., ocean acidification and sea-level rise). The findings offer evidence to support the benefits of carbon emissions mitigation in reducing seafood supply vulnerabilities to climate change.

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Boat to fork: seafood value chains and alternative food networks (2020)

Alternative food networks (AFNs) aim to restructure value chains to improve the ecological and socio-economic outcomes of food systems. In this thesis, I introduce the concept of seafood AFNs. Whereas existing literature has focused primarily on one type of seafood AFN – community supported fisheries (CSFs) – there is a gap in knowledge regarding the wider array of these types of enterprises. Further, there are questions related to their viability, scalability, and potential for broader impact.This thesis begins to address these research gaps through value chain analysis of various types of seafood AFNs. Through semi-structured interviews with seafood AFN representatives from across North America, I identify five key features emphasized along their diverse value chains: supporting (i) small-scale and (ii) place-based fishing through the provision of (iii) traceable, (iv) sustainable, and (v) high-quality seafood products. I also categorize market values and less tangible values promoted by these enterprises, as well as their key barriers, which highlight structural conflicts inherent in simultaneously participating in and resisting market-based structures. Further, through analysis of interview data from seafood value chain participants in a case study region, I highlight how the diversity, flexibility, and hybridity of seafood AFNs can present both challenges and opportunities to their application in new areas. My research also contributes to improved understanding of the market feasibility of seafood AFNs. Through a geographically stratified consumer survey, I suggest that consumers broadly prioritize seafood attributes situated at the consumption end of the value chain, such as product quality. Through Spearman two-tailed tests I also identify associations between demographic variables and certain seafood preferences. For example, younger consumers indicate higher willingness to pay for seafood features emphasized through seafood AFNs, older consumers have positive attitudes about the health benefits and convenience of seafood, and those situated in non-coastal locations perceive lower availability of local or domestic seafood. These results suggest that seafood AFNs should emphasize their high-quality product offerings and target specific consumer segments when looking to expand into new markets.

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Get it in gear: evaluating gear-based trade-offs in fisheries (2020)

Fishing gears’ damaging effects on the ecosystems in which they operate are a major environmental challenge of capture fisheries. The full cost of fisheries is currently not internalized into the economy, and thus to properly evaluate the benefits received from fisheries globally we must undertake a quantitative evaluation of the costs and benefits of including the ecosystem services upon which it relies. This thesis fills this gap through a full cost-benefit analysis of the world’s fishing fleets. First, I quantify the catches, discards and values of marine capture fisheries by gear type. Different gears disproportionately contribute to landings and landed value in comparison to their costs of discards and the potential shadow-value of these discards. Second, I propose a method to evaluate the short-term trade-offs necessary for fishing firms to maximize their revenues and profits. I find that through optimal management and rebuilding that fishers could increase their catches and profits in the selected case studies. Third, I evaluate whether current consumer-based sustainability initiatives are achieving ‘on-the-water’ effects. Here, I find that there is little reward for best-performing actors but a strong effect causing worst-performers to decrease their catches. Finally, I use the data on capture fisheries by gear type from earlier in the thesis to evaluate areas of low-cost conservation for species threatened by fishing gear. My results highlight areas of high conservation concern for particular fishing gears, and areas of high overlap between multiple fishing gear threats and multiple species of conservation concern. Taken together, this thesis advances our knowledge of impacts and trade-offs associated with different fishing gear types and improves our ability to restrict these impacts through management and market-based initiatives.

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Building tools to model the effects of ocean acidification and how it scales from physiology to fisheries (2019)

Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by anthropogenic fossil fuel burning and is one of multiple climate-related stressors in marine environments. Understanding of how these stressors will interact to affect marine life and fisheries is limited. In this thesis, I used integrated modelling approaches to scale the effects of biophysical drivers from physiology to population dynamics and fisheries. I focused on ocean acidification and how it interacts with other main drivers such as temperature and oxygen. I used a dynamic bioclimatic envelope model (DBEM) to project the effects of global environmental change on fisheries under two contrasting scenarios of climate change—the low optimistic climate change scenario in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5˚ C, and the high climate change scenario on par with our current ‘business-as-usual’ trajectory. First, I developed an ex-vessel fish price database and explored methods using various ocean acidification assumptions. Ex-vessel fish prices are essential for fisheries economic analyses, while model development of ocean acidification effects are important to better understand the uncertainties surrounding acidification and the sensitivity of the model to these uncertainties. These tools and methods were then used to project the impacts of ocean acidification, in the context of climate change, on global invertebrate fisheries—the species group most sensitive to acidification. My results showed that areas with greater acidification have greater negative responses to climate change, e.g. polar regions. However, ocean warming will likely be a greater driver in species distributions and may overshadow direct effects of acidification. While greater climate change will generally have negative consequences on fisheries, Arctic regions may see increased fisheries catch potential as species shift poleward. Canada’s Arctic remains one of the most pristine marine regions left in the world and climate-driven increases in fisheries potential will have major implications for biodiversity and local indigenous reliance on marine resources. In the face of global environmental change, my thesis provides databases, modelling approaches, scenario development, and assessments of global change necessary for adaptation and mitigation of climate-related effects on marine fisheries.

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The contributions by women to fisheries economies worldwide (2019)

Women make important but often undervalued contributions to fisheries economies globally. Missing these contributions has direct consequences for the sustainability of fisheries and for the millions who depend on fisheries resources worldwide. This work draws on the principles of economics and on other theoretical frameworks and knowledge systems to highlight the contributions by women to fisheries economies around the world. From interviews with Indigenous community members to online databases and national censes, I explore the range of data sources needed for a comprehensive picture of the fisheries economy. This investigation reveals that much needs to be done to improve the quality and scope of gender-disaggregated fisheries data if fisheries policies are to align with international guidelines for small-scale fisheries and goals related to sustainable development. The global synthesis of participation by women in fisheries, presented here, indicates that women represent approximately 11% of participants in small-scale fishing activities (2.1 million women), catch roughly 2.9 million (± 520,000) tonnes per year of marine fish and invertebrates, with a landed value of 5.6 billion (± 952 million) USD, and an economic impact of 14.8 billion USD per year (equivalent to 25.6 billion real dollars). These contributions are often missing from fisheries statistics and national accounts yet are fundamental to food and livelihood security. In the five major fishing countries (Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam) investigated in greater depth here, the limited available data indicate that women participate throughout the fish value chain but are under-represented in fisheries decision-making. At the community level, an investigation of the contributions by women to the fisheries-related economy in the Traditional Territory of the Heiltsuk Nation on Canada’s Pacific coast reveals important gender dimensions of linked human-herring systems and highlights the role of Indigenous women in fisheries leadership and governance. The chapters herein bring attention to women not only as important stakeholders in the fisheries sector but also as powerful agents of change in their communities and major contributors to food and livelihood security. These findings add to an evolving discourse around human dimensions of fisheries that calls for specific attention to women and gender.

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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

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Classifying and estimating aquaculture subsidies and their risks to the marine environment (2022)

Aquaculture is a rapidly growing sector in global food production and is increasingly recognized as an integral component of aquatic food systems to meet the rising global consumption of seafood per capita. Some of this growth is subsidized by governments, but only a handful of country-scale studies have quantified, but not classified, aquaculture subsidies. For the aquaculture sector to contribute sustainably to food and economic security, it is crucial that if governments decide to provide subsidies, the funding is deployed efficiently and without exacerbating ecological harm. So, I begin to fill this gap in understanding the types and magnitude of subsidies provided to aquaculture. First, I explore the lessons that can be learned from the subsidization of two other major food production sectors, i.e., agriculture and fisheries, as aquaculture exists on a spectrum between both sectors. Across agriculture and fisheries, I analyze the breadth of subsidy classification systems. Next, I develop a bespoke classification system for aquaculture. I examine the relative risks of aquaculture systems on the marine environment and classify subsidy types, before discussing how subsidies may exacerbate or lessen the relative risks posed by different aquaculture systems. Finally, I examine the aquaculture practices and subsidies of four of the largest mariculture producers in the world: China, Indonesia, Norway, and Chile. Together, these four countries represent over 70% of mariculture production globally and provided an estimated 5.24 billion USD in subsidies to the sector. By classifying and estimating each country’s aquaculture production systems and subsidies, I was able to propose alternative considerations for governments. As each of the four countries aim to develop more sustainable aquaculture, it is important that they also ensure that their subsidies are not counteracting their objectives and that appropriate requirements exist to target subsidies more efficiently and mindfully. This work highlights that subsidies need to be carefully considered within the mariculture sector. In particular, it is important to understand the environmental risks associated with different production systems to avoid exacerbating these risks via subsidization.

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Sea turtles and paper parks in a Nicaraguan small scale fishery (2022)

The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) experienced a global population decline of about 30% over two generations. Threats include direct take of turtle eggs for human consumption and indirect take of adults via incidental catch in fishing gear, known as bycatch. Chacocente beach in Nicaragua is one of ten mass nesting sites for olive ridleys in the world. The shore of Chacocente is under military protection and the surrounding waters are part of an established marine protected area (MPA). In the neighboring community of El Astillero, 60% of households are economically dependent on fishing. Fishers expressed concern for turtle bycatch in gillnets and managers expressed concern for uncontrolled fishing; however, bycatch in this region has not been quantified. This study examines bycatch in reference to the protected area’s design logics to understand whether management strategies have encouraged the desired fisher behavior and outcomes as concerns olive ridleys. Through document analysis, we derived four unintentional assumptions that seem to inform management design. We then compared these unintentional assumptions to 586 net set observations conducted in 2019. Results showed 24 turtles were caught inside the MPA, 24 turtles caught outside the MPA, with 0.04 and 0.03 turtles caught per 100 meters of net, respectively. While bycatch is similar inside and outside the MPA, revealing a lack of compliance with MPA boundaries, bycatch varied greatly between targeted species and month, with relatively high proportions of bycatch occurring in the snook fishery and in September. Such variance is not accounted for in regulations. To build quality protection in practice – not quantity of parks on paper – we aim to improve understanding of fishing interactions at-sea and make recommendations for management design that work for both sea turtle populations and fisher livelihood security.

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A cost benefit assessment of implementing marine reserves in the Northern Shelf Bioregion of British Columbia (2021)

Marine reserves are one type of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that are no-take used as instruments for achieving ecosystem-based conservation globally. Currently, over 6 percent of the global oceans are protected under MPAs, with about 2,7 percent highly protected through marine reserves. A recent study estimates that protecting at least 30 percent of the global oceans by 2030 could generate additional economic benefits of between US$170 and $534 billion annually by 2050. Canada surpassed its 10 percent target protection of ocean and land for 2019, with the country’s current targets being to protect 25 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. To that end, this thesis estimates the net benefits of creating and implementing marine reserves in the Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB). To do so, I first conducted a literature review on the valuation of MPAs in general, highlighting the past and current studies on the valuation of marine reserves. Secondly, I carried out a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) of implementing marine reserves in the NSB and conducted the CBA under three scenarios of reserve sizes, i.e., 10, 30 and 50 percent, respectively. These scenarios were ultimately compared with the status quo, where no marine reserves were implemented. The economic indicator used for this comparison is discounted profit of both market and non-market values generated by marine reserves in the NSB. I calculated net benefits for the (i) short term (eight years); and (ii) long term (50 years). The results suggest that the highest net benefits of $67 million/year are achieved over the long term when a marine reserve of 30 percent is implemented. Finally, comparing results from the three scenarios points to the need to strike a balance between the level of MPA protection and the resulting net benefits associated with implementing marine reserves as protecting half of the NSB could result in a decline in net benefits of 30 percent protection to ~$47 million/year over the long term.

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Calculating the economic value of genomic technologies in wild and farmed coho production (2019)

Even in the absence of commercial fishing, coho salmon (Onchorhynchus kisutch) originating from the Interior Fraser River (IFR) watershed have yet to recover from the low returns experienced since 1992. New cost-effective management tools based on genomic technology have been developed and may be implemented to address the low returns of IFR coho. Parentage based tagging (PBT) and genomic stock identification (GSI) are used to identify the origin and age of individuals caught in a mixed-stock fishery. These tools are vital in generating estimates of exploitation and survival rates of both wild and hatchery fish, at a lowered cost than the management system in place today. Here, I calculate the economic value of these technologies, and show how sampling costs could decrease while still ensuring that proper regulations are instated, using the IFR populations as a case study. Results show that genomic technologies may provide an additional $65,000 in revenues over the next 32 years, under current ocean conditions, and $953,000 to $1,226,000 over the next 32 years, in favorable ocean conditions, to southern British Columbia (BC) commercial coho fisheries.Similarly, genomic technologies can be used to enhance certain economically important biological traits in aquaculture production, and increase the production of farmed salmon in land-based recirculating systems. Important information regarding carcass quality, disease resistance, flesh colour and growth rate, has been collected for coho and may be applied for breeding programs in BC. Marker assisted selection (MAS) and genomic selection (GS) are two tools used for selective breeding to enhance coho broodstock, based on the traits listed above. To calculate the economic value of these technologies, I estimate the difference in net present value of coho production from enhanced and un-enhanced broodstock. Results indicate that the value of the genomic technologies may be around $1,384,000 over a 10-year span at a production quantity of 115 MT. Improved flesh quality can yield the greatest change in net present value, accounting for 52% of the total change in net present value when the genomic technologies are applied for selective breeding.

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Socio-economic contribution of small-scale and large-scale fisheries in British Columbia (2017)

Small-scale fisheries have been the focus of much fisheries research in the last decades, as they were often overlooked in the past. Small-scale fisheries can be a challenge to study due to lack of landings and economic data or vague definitions of what and who are involved in this fishing sector. In this study, 17 features of small-scale fisheries that can apply globally have been collated through intensive literature review. All commercial fisheries and Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fisheries in British Columbia are analysed qualitatively for the presence or absence of these features. Qualitative assessment suggests that FSC fisheries and Aboriginal commercial fisheries exhibit the greatest number of small-scale fishery features. These fisheries represent important cultural and economic opportunities for groups that often live in more isolated communities along the coast. Sablefish fisheries have the fewest small-scale fishery features due to the large capital investment required to purchase a licence and quota to participate, and most vessels operating on offshore fishing grounds. Further quantitative assessment of small-scale and large-scale was carried out using three methods: (1) cumulative percent distribution; (2) vessel length split, and (3) point-based framework. All three of these approaches identify the Aboriginal commercially licensed fisheries, salmon gillnetters, salmon trollers, crab, shrimp and prawn trappers and trawlers, urchin and rockfish hook and line fisheries as small-scale. Therefore, these are regarded as constituting the small-scale fisheries sector in British Columbia. These fisheries caught 25% of the landings by weight, which corresponds to 46% of the landed value, underscoring the high prices their catches command in the market relative to those of LSF for the 2013 fishing season. In terms of ownership, individuals own 68% of the small-scale vessels in BC as opposed to 98% corporate ownership in the large-scale sector. In terms of geographical ownership, parties or individuals outside of Vancouver and its surrounding areas own 64% of the small-scale sector.

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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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