Seasons create a rhythm in nature and, by extension, in the lives of people who depend directly on natural resources. However, our understanding of how seasons affect the ways that people interact with and benefit from coastal ecosystems is limited. In my PhD I address this gap using the case study of small-scale fisheries on Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. Combining household surveys, interviews, focus group discussions and observation I explored seasonality in the social aspects of fisheries through an ecosystem service lens. My results show that who fishes, how they fish, why they fish and what they do with the fish they catch all varied with season. Specifically, I found that habitat differences influence seasonal household fishing strategies at fine spatial scales and that men and women’s fishing are differently sensitive to seasonal conditions. I also found that the reasons perceived as most important for fishing are seasonally dependent and that seasonal livelihood priorities influence choices of how to use fish catch. These findings illustrate that the human-nature interactions through which people co-produce and benefit from coastal ecosystem services are time specific. My research empirically demonstrates the importance of using temporal scales relevant to social processes for understanding the links between coastal ecosystems and human wellbeing.
Ruby is an environment social scientist with a specific research focus on small-scale fisheries. She studied Environmental Economics as an undergraduate, followed by an MRes in the economics of inland capture fisheries at the University of York, UK. Ruby then went on to work as a consultant for international NGOs in Myanmar on projects relating to governance and management in inland fisheries and aquaculture. This background underpins her interest and multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the contribution of small-scale fisheries in the livelihoods and wellbeing of vulnerable communities. Specifically, Ruby’s research bridges theory and practice, and seeks to contribute to equitable and sustainable blue futures.