Small-scale fisheries provide an important source of food and income security, particularly for poor rural communities. As coastal populations and their demands continue to grow, reconciling livelihood needs with conservation objectives will be critical for sustainably managing small-scale fisheries. This requires an understanding of the human-nature interactions that characterise small-scale fisheries as dynamic social-ecological systems. In my research I examine how household dependency on fishing for food and income relates to fishing pressure and patterns of exploitation at relatively fine temporal scales. The research will explore drivers of periodic and seasonal variation in the contribution of fishing to diversified livelihoods using data from four rural coastal communities in Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. My work focuses on household dependency to take account of the relative importance of fishing to livelihoods, which is often overlooked by conventional methods that value fisheries using production figures. My research will broaden our understanding of small-scale fisheries as complex social-ecological systems operating within wider socio-economic contexts.
As an undergraduate student Ruby studied environmental economics at the University of York, UK and continued as a Masters by Research student focusing on the economics of inland capture fisheries. Whilst studying for her masters, Ruby got involved in a research project looking at the livelihood impacts of reduced capture fisheries in the Mekong River, which started her interest in the contribution of small-scale fisheries to the food and income security of vulnerable groups. In 2016, Ruby moved to Myanmar where she spent a year working as a consultant for non-governmental organisations WorldFish and IWMI on projects relating to governance and management in capture fisheries and aquaculture. Ruby is now studying under the supervision of Professor Graeme Cumming, Dr David Mills and Dr Cristian Rojas.