People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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WorldFish on gender, livelihoods, and transformation towards sustainability


Thursday, April 7th 2016 - 16:00 to 17:00 hrs.

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Sarah Lawless, Reuben Sulu, & Hampus Eriksson
Sarah Lawless, Reuben Sulu, & Hampus Eriksson

This week, our seminar will be a compliation of three 15 minute talks by research scientists from WorldFish.

Talk 1. Gender considerations in development and small-scale fisheries interventions; a Solomon Islands case study

Presented by: Sarah Lawless

Abstract: Women play a critical role in each stage of small-scale fisheries value chains, including their participation in extraction, processing and marketing of fish and fish products. Yet, women’s contributions are undervalued, and women tend to be marginalized from efforts to manage natural resources and develop small-scale fisheries. Gender equity is continually highlighted by donors and managers as critical to the success of natural resource management development efforts. For example, across the commitments laid out in the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries gender is a dominant theme.  Yet, initiatives such as these have failed to translate into substantial and equitable changes to natural resource management processes and outcomes in practice. We argue there is a need to understand the gender-based constraints that must to be overcome to enable small-scale fisheries and agriculture development to drive improvements to human well-being. This presentation will use Solomon Islands as a case study, where most people’s livelihoods and food security are tied to agriculture and fisheries. We explore how gender norms are promoting or hindering women and men’s engagement in small-scale fisheries and agricultural development, and the implications these norms have upon human well-being. We find that women face greater restrictions in access to information and support services, divisions in productive labour, participation in decision-making processes, and physical mobility. We find that cultural norms and customary rights systems are highly influential and critical to carefully navigate. We explain how these insights have translated into changes in the way in which we work within small-scale fisheries and community development in Solomon Islands, and in WorldFish programs globally.

Talk 2. Livelihoods Transformations in a Contemporary Pacific Island Setting

Presented by: Reuben Sulu

Abstract: Inshore marine resources play an important role in the livelihoods of Pacific Island coastal communities. However, such reliance can be detrimental to inshore marine ecosystems. Understanding the livelihoods of coastal communities is important for devising relevant and effective fisheries management strategies. Semi-structured household interviews were conducted with householders in Langalanga Lagoon, Solomon Islands, to understand household livelihoods and resource governance in fishing-dependent communities. Households were engaged in a diverse range of livelihoods. Fishing, shell money production and gardening were the most important livelihoods. Proximity to an urban centre influenced how households accessed some livelihoods. Perceptions of management rules varied and different reasons were cited for why rules were broken, the most common reason being to meet livelihood needs. Current models of inshore small-scale fisheries management that are based on the notion of community-based resource management may not work in locations where customary management systems are weak and livelihoods are heavily reliant on marine resources. An important step for fisheries management in such locations should include elucidating community priorities through participatory development planning, taking into consideration livelihoods as well as governance and development aspirations.

Talk 3. Beyond social-ecological traps: fostering transformations towards sustainability

Presented by: Hampus Eriksson

Abstract: Millions of poor people living in coastal environments often have limited opportunities to realize improvements to wellbeing outside of natural resource exploitation, and in many cases current livelihoods do not offer a pathway out of poverty. This leads to unsustainable development pathways and undesirable, yet often highly resilient, states. These situations have been described as social-ecological traps. In situations where growing populations live with high dependence on degraded and contested natural resources, where institutions have eroded, and where modernization is encroaching, how can livelihoods be maintained, diversified, or enhanced and natural resource management be most effectively negotiated? Identifying approaches for moving beyond social-ecological traps in contemporary settings represents an important research frontier that may require re-imagining of predominant management and development models. This talk will present a project process that strives to work with fisheries dependent communities to sustainably enhance and diversify livelihoods and incomes in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. A component of the project is a journal special issue, where we invite case studies that propose pragmatic ways to break out of social-ecological traps and highlight empirical examples of transformations towards more equitable and sustainable development trajectories.


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