What is a fishing village without fish? What happens to an individual, their community, culture, health, local security, local economy, and natural environment? We investigate the social and ecological impacts of low fish availability on fish-dependent communities with a focus on capacity building, well-being, and conflict mitigation. Small-scale fisheries act as buffers against extreme poverty and vulnerability. Without fish, communities face consequences that undermine justice and environmental sustainability across an entire social-ecological system.
As a Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Explorer and member of Secure Fisheries' Fisheries Conflict Research Consortium, our research examines the complex interplay of food insecurities, cultural erosion, health inequalities, political marginalization, armed conflict, maritime crime, and civil unrest in fisheries.
BAG OF CHIPS
Founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, Psychologist Dr. Marshall Rosenberg states that "Violence is the tragic expression of unmet needs". Short on cash and calories, marginalized groups of artisan fisherfolk and their families grow frustrated. The ocean’s collapse is already having a profound impact on the security landscape - and will only intensify in the coming years as communities struggle to meet their basic needs as resulting from competition over what appeared to be fixed natural resources. Our research seeks to determine indicators that can help to identify small-scale fisheries that are exposed to the intersections between three key components: frail institutions, pre-existing social instability, and cultural narratives as well as ocean degradation and climate change vulnerability.
We strive to apply these indicators and new metrics for assessing the risk of climate change-induced conflict in small-scale fisheries in designing avenues to engage local youth in resilience through nonviolent means.
We investigate on how climate change and marine degradation exacerbate the catalysts for social and ecological crisis that may lead to maritime insecurities and inter-communal conflicts in small-scale fishing villages. Subsequently, we are focusing on how alternative pathways through education can prevent youth from becoming radicalized out of desperation and instead, be part of the solution as positive change-makers.
Fishery scarcity - in concert with environmental stresses such as growing populations, pollution, extreme weather events, and coastal development - critically undermines human security and wellbeing in small-scale fisheries. As nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, fisheries conflicts over finite aquatic resources are an increasing global concern.
A SURGE OF THREATS
About one fifth of our planet's coral reefs are dead or severely damaged. Another 35% could be lost within the next decade to 40 years. This is happening at twice the pace of rainforest decline.
CORAL REEF DESTRUCTION
The sea level is expected to rise 2 meters by this century's end. A rise of 1 meter would flood massive coastal regions, most strikingly in Asia. More than 100 million people would become displaced as refugees.
SEA LEVEL RISE
10 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans annually. Plastic is mistaken for nutriment by marine life. Fish and shellfish now contain toxic chemicals at concentrations as high as nine million times those found in the water in which they inhabit.
Significant fossil fuel reserves and minerals rest deep beyond the ocean floor. Surveying and drilling for these diminishing resources releases toxic substances such as mercery and arsenic endangering sensitive marine habitats and species.
OIL & GAS
Mangroves are salt-tolerant forests found especially along coastlines in over 120 tropical and subtropical countries. Mangroves protect coastal communities against erosion and storms. Today, more than 35% of the world’s mangroves are already gone.
800 million people rely on fish for protein and income. Around 61% of global fish exports come from countries of the global South while the dependence on fish as a critical food source is much higher than in the North. Studies predict a collapse of all seafood by 2050.
We rely on generous donations, crowdfunding campaigns, and small grants to facilitate our free workshops with our community partners and enable our research. If you're energized by our approach and mission, consider making a donation to Beyond the Surface International for a tax-deduction and empower us to reach more vulnerable fishing villages from coast to coast.