by Annie Lalancette
PhD Candidate, Concordia University
Thanks to the QCBS Excellence Award, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the 2nd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress (2WSFC) held in Mérida, Mexico on September 21-26 (program available at: 2wsfc.wordpress.com). The 2WSFC was jointly organized and co-hosted by Dr. Silvia Salas from CINVESTAV, Mérida, Mexico, and by Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee, Project Director of Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) based at Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada, along with many other local and international organizations.
This conference was one of the most worthwhile I attended to date. The 2WSFC counted around 400 participants from around the world including fishers, researchers, NGO staff members and policy-makers. It brought together an impressive list of speakers covering all aspects of small-scale fisheries. I had the pleasure of listening to some of my favourite authors as well as to discover new innovative researchers. The size of the conference made it very easy to connect with other participants and I had the privilege of exchanging with some of the top researchers in the field and to receive valuable feedback on my own work.
On the first day, I participated in a workshop titled “Transdisciplinary Research & Capacity Development in Small-Scale Fisheries”. The purpose of the workshop was to lay the foundation for future work in the development of a transdisciplinary fisheries course suitable for a range of delivery methods (e.g. distance education, standard classroom, or part of a training program). As this workshop attracted attendees with experience in transdisciplinarity and community-based capacity-building, it allowed me to connect with people who shared similar interests from the very beginning of my stay in Mexico.
In action, during the workshop “Transdisciplinary Research & Capacity Development in Small-Scale Fisheries”
I presented part of my doctoral research on the third day. My research focuses on integrating different perspectives as a means to improve ecological and social outcomes in fisheries management. Failures in conventional fisheries management are a major cause of marine biodiversity loss. Indigenous people often have a unique perspective on management informed by their culture and extensive knowledge. Integrating their perspectives into decision-making could improve fisheries management outcomes in terms of resource and livelihood protection, reduce conflict by increasing legitimacy, and promote greater equity for indigenous peoples. At the conference, I discussed how the fisheries management framework currently applied in Torres Strait, Australia could create negative social and cultural impacts for indigenous Torres Strait Islanders.
The conference was not only productive, it was also extremely enjoyable. Mérida is a beautiful, friendly and safe city, the venue was great and the food was delicious! Social events were organized every evening which allowed attendees to meet in a more informal setting and to enjoy other venues in the city. The conference also included a field trip to Progreso, the biggest port in Yucatán. We saw flamingos, visited the Mayan ruins of Xcambo and had a very tasty seafood lunch provided by local fishers in Progreso. During the afternoon, I participated in the “Indigenous Talking Circle” which, in addition to being very stimulating, provided me with yet another opportunity to meet researchers working on similar issues. Finally, the closing dinner on the evening of September 25 was nothing short of being memorable. It had everything you can wish for in Mexico: it took place in a beautiful hacienda, there was a mariachi performing, great food and people dancing tirelessly! But we were all back to business the next day to attend the Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) general assembly, which I am now a proud member!
Overall, this conference – and therefore the QCBS Excellence Award – were both very positive for the advancement of my research and my career. If you are working on issues related to small-scale fisheries, I strongly encourage you to attend the next WSFC and to check out the TBTI website at: toobigtoignore.net
Group picture: Too Big To Ignore General Assembly