HORN OF AFRICA
The waters around Somalia and Somaliland are some of the most productive in the world, yet the domestic fishing sector is relatively nascent. My research includes understanding foreign and IUU fishing and the challenges posed for Somali artisanal fisheries, studying the sustainability of fish stocks in Somali waters, and informing fisheries development to promote long term food and economic security. I led the 2015 report, Securing Somali Fisheries, and recently helped form an academic partnership with the City University, Mogadishu.
Lying at the intersection of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, Lake Victoria produces extensive commercial fisheries that support local food security, the livelihoods of 100,000s of fishing families, and economically important export markets. I am studying the effect of tilapia farming in the lake on the wild fisheries and local commodity markets. Cage farming may be an economic boon for local fishing communities, especially in the face of stagnating wild fisheries, but pollution and habitat destruction from cages may harm the wild fisheries directly. Funding from the National Science Foundation's Coupled Natural and Human Systems program supports this research.
Fisheries conflicts range from disputes over fishing policies, to violence between fishers, to the infamous Cod Wars of the mid-1900s. The relationship between fisheries and conflict is multidimensional. Good fish catch supports food and livelihood security, improving community resilience and reducing conflict. Poor fish catch increases instability and can push fishers into armed militias. As global fish stocks decline, fisheries conflict will increase. To better understand these complex relationships, I am leading the Fisheries Conflict Research Consortium and partnering on the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index.
Changes in fish abundance can happen rapidly and unexpectedly, often imposing serious economic and conservation impacts. My research investigates vulnerability to rapid shifts, quantifies the impact of harvesting on community stability, identifies community-level interactions to inform ecosystem-based management, and quantifies predictability in communities. I also focus on understanding predator-prey interactions through field data collection, statistical analyses, bioenergetic models, and population dynamics models.