Abstract: Social networks have been and remain important across the Pacific Islands, and beyond, for building and maintaining social-ecological resilience. However, there is little quantitative information on the role of fish and fishing in resource sharing networks and how networks may be impacted by socioeconomic and environmental changes, which is critical information for developing culturally appropriate fisheries management. My talk will focus on a social network analysis of sharing networks in 18 villages in Fiji. In this analysis, I found that villages formed two clusters based on network characteristics: villages on the main island had less cohesive networks with more cash and purchased good sharing, while villages located on other islands had more cohesive networks with a greater proportion of natural resource sharing. Metrics of network cohesion were positively correlated with mean household fishing frequency and negatively correlated with measures of material wealth. Fishers reported sharing the largest estimated catch from gillnets and night spearfishing. Given concerns about the sustainability of these fishing practices, I will also discuss possible methods for regulating these gears while maintaining fish sharing practices. This study shows how social network analysis can be conducted to better understand sharing networks to support natural resource management.
Biography: Rachel is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Hawaiʻi. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on using qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand complex human dimensions of natural resource management. While her early academic background and work experience focused on marine ecology and fisheries, her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small Indigenous village in Fiji made her acutely aware of the need to include socio-cultural factors in conservation and resource management. Her PhD dissertation used mixed methods to understand drivers of social-ecological resilience across 20 coastal villages in Fiji. She is currently working on a project focused on geospatial and social mapping and assessment of environmental stewardship activities and networks in Hawaiʻi.