Research

We undertake integrative-interdisciplinary research in support of sustainable fisheries. Much of our work is problem-oriented, combining quantitative ecology with integrative ‘resource systems’ approaches and often engaging directly with policy and management initiatives. Our principal tools are mathematical modelling, observational and experimental field studies, and participatory research and planning approaches. We currently work on conservation of natural aquatic resources, aquaculture-based fisheries enhancement and restoration and sustainable aquaculture, in systems ranging from small lakes to the deep ocean.

Integrative science: Effective management of aquatic resources often requires combining multiple technical measures (e.g. harvest regulation, habitat management and hatchery enhancement), integrating biological/technical with social/economic considerations, and creating reciprocal links between research and management. We develop integrative concepts, tools and processes that allow scientists and stakeholders to ‘put the pieces together’.

Population biology: Our research in population biology aims to provide robust models for processes that are central to resource management. This includes size and density-dependent processes in fish populations and the evolutionary ecology of domestication. We also work on the population dynamics of fish diseases.

Fisheries enhancements: Cultured fish are widely used in the enhancement and restoration of fish populations. We work on approaches for developing or reforming the role of enhancements within fisheries systems, including population dynamics theory and practical assessment methods and tools (EnhanceFish).

Resource conservation: Freshwater and coastal biological resources are highly diverse and support productive fisheries, but are threatened by intensive harvesting, habitat modification and exotic species. We have carried out extensive field studies in the Mekong and Amazon regions to assess such impacts and devise conservation measures.

Aquaculture systems: Aquaculture is expanding rapidly and interacting with natural aquatic resources through multiple environmental and market linkages. We investigate nutrient dynamics and related environmental impacts of aquaculture systems; domestication and feralisation issues in aquatic organisms, and indigenous aquaculture technologies within rice farming landscapes.

Human dimensions: Improving the management of aquatic resources requires an understanding of institutional arrangements and the social and economic context of management. Many of our projects combine institutional analysis, bio-economic modelling and livelihoods assessments with ecological research. Currently we explore using agent- based modelling in the evaluation of management options for small-scale fisheries.

 

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