Wrapping up a Malouf year and a Master’s project

As we transition into the Fall, I am wrapping up my Master’s program in Marine Resource Management! For this post, I’d like to give a short overview of my project over the last couple years. 

My project looked at ideas of adaptation in small-scale fisheries. Fishermen are constantly adapting and changing the way they fish in response to a variety of unpredictabilities in social-ecological systems. For example, changes in the weather, market, fishing seasons, and even larger scale climate and ocean patterns affect the ways people fish. Adaptive capacity is the abilities of fishermen to cope with these changes in order to continue fishing and maintain their livelihoods.

One way to adapt is to catch several different species. That way, there are other options of species to fish for in case certain species become unavailable. This strategy is called “portfolio diversification.” There are ways to build a diverse portfolio to make one more resilient or better able to adapt to change.

A resilient portfolio consists of species that are uncorrelated with each other, meaning that their landings do not coincide or overlap with one another. Here, a fisherman is able to fish for at least one abundant species throughout the entire year.

On the other hand, a less resilient portfolio would consist of landings peaking at similar times as one another. This scenario would imply “busy seasons” where a fisherman catches several species, but it would not allow for a continuous income throughout the year. A less resilient portfolio would look something like this. 

Network theory helps to study the patterns of these portfolios in order to understand fishermen’s adaptive capacities. Fisheries connectivity networks display the timing of fisheries landings, and they can be measured to see the extent that species landings that may or may not correspond with one another. Representing small-scale fisheries this way acknowledges that there are several diverse target species.

I used this analysis to look at fishing portfolios of small-scale fisheries around the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico from 2001-2017. Region 1’s networks showed increasing adaptive capacity while the others decreased. This is important because it alludes to the fact that fishing patterns vary through time and space. Such information can be helpful when thinking about how to manage multi-species fisheries in areas of different adaptive capacities. 

My project has been really interesting and I’ve loved learning about different aspects of fisheries resilience over the past couple years. Being a Malouf scholar over the last year and having access to professional development through Oregon Sea Grant has helped me think more about how to communicate these topics to others outside of academia, especially as more and more education is being done remotely. Currently, I am creating short 2-minute videos to post on social media that explain topics I study, describing keywords such as adaptation, resilience, and social-ecological systems. I’m excited to continue working on this as I move onto a PhD in Geography here at OSU.

It’s been interesting to study adaptation and resilience while experiencing unprecedented current events like pandemic and wildfires. Mostly, it’s heartening to see communities’ generosity and resilience as people all around Oregon help each other in times of need. I hope everyone is staying safe!

Until next time,


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