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Deakin University’s Dr Tanya King is to be involved in a world-wide project that aims to get a better understanding of the environmental, political, economic and social factors involved in small-scale fishing communities around the world.
Dr King, an anthropologist interested in issues relating to natural resource management and the environment, is one of only three Australians involved in the Canadian-based project Too Big To Ignore – A Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research.
“Fisheries support the livelihoods of about 560 million people, or about 8% of the world's population,” Dr King said.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, more than 90% of these are related to small-scale fisheries.
“These figures suggest that small-scale fisheries are simply ‘too big to ignore’, as the project name would suggest.
“Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite.
“Data collection systems and policy discourses about fisheries are centred on the large-scale fishing sector, while small-scale fisheries continue to be seriously understudied.”
This lack of detailed information about small-scale fisheries has resulted in systematic underestimation of their importance in addressing global crises, including food security, poverty and biodiversity loss.
“The under-appreciation of small-scale fisheries has often led to policies that undermine their ability to adapt to global change processes, such as urbanisation, globalisation, and climate change,” said Dr King.
Dr King will be involved in looking at small-scale fishing communities in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia-South Pacific.
Her previous research has looked at the lives of Bass Strait shark fisherman and the Commonwealth fisheries public servants who manage the industry from Canberra.
In addition to commercial fishermen, she has worked with dairy farmers, rural women farmers, members of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and professional rodeo riders.
As well as maintaining an interest in commercial fishing issues, her current research concerns the cultural aspects of water use, water governance and the implementation of desalination plants in coastal regions.