Significant Contributions

Values and valuation of marine ecosystem resources.

I pioneered the study of what is denoted ‘intergenerational discounting’ in a series of papers (e.g., Sumaila & Walters, 2005, Ecological Economics; Ekeland et al., 2015, J. of Environmental Economics and Management). My goal was to capture the long-term values derived from fisheries resources, which is inspired by the need to integrate and reconcile the usually fast and short-term nature of economic behavior with the slow and stabilizing nature of many ecological processes. To support large-scale valuation work of not only my group but also colleagues around the world, I embarked, together with my students and collaborators, on building global fisheries related socio-economic databases such as ex-vessel fish prices (Sumaila el al., 2007, J. of Bioeconomics; Swartz et al. 2013, Environmental and Resource Economics); fishing subsidies (Sumaila et al., 2010, J. of Bioeconomics); global cost of fishing (Lam et al. 2011, ICES J. of Marine Science); and fisheries jobs (Teh and Sumaila, 2011, Fish and Fisheries). These databases are now part of the global ocean and fisheries data infrastructure that are used to conduct scholarly work worldwide.

The analysis of global ocean fisheries policy and management issues

Such as fisheries subsidies, illegal fishing and their effects on marine conservation goals and policies (e.g., Sumaila et al. 2006, Marine Policy; Sumaila and Pauly, 2007, Nature); marine ecosystem valuation and bioeconomic modeling that address topical issues such as the use of marine protected areas as coastal and ocean management tools (e.g., Sumaila, 1998, Fisheries Research; Sumaila et al., 2012, PloS One); and the analysis of the economic, social and food security issues related to threats to marine ecosystems such as climate change, ocean acidification and oil spills (e.g., Sumaila et al., 2011, Nature Climate Change; Sumaila et al., 2011, Canadian J. of Fisheries and Aquatic Science; Gattuso et al., 2015, Science).

Application of game theory to the management of shared fish stocks.

In a series of articles starting in the mid-1990s, I explored the optimal management of shared stock fisheries such as those for cod and capelin, when different fishing gears are used to target different age groups of the stock (e.g., Sumaila, 1997, Environmental and Resource Economics; Miller et al. 2013, Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics). These articles provided insights on how best to set catch quotas for different interacting species and fishing sectors in order to optimize benefits while ensuring the long term sustainability of the all-important fish stocks. I continue to contribute to this area culminating in the recent publication of Game Theory and Fisheries: Essays on the Tragedy of Free for All Fishing. (Routledge, 2013).

Cross-cutting interdisciplinary contributions

Pauly et al. (2002, Nature) is an innovative interdisciplinary coverage of the history of overfishing, its causes and remedies, which has arguably become a classic in the field with over 2,100 citation (Google scholar). My contributions to the biodiversity literature are provided in two recent publications in Science (Pereira et al. 2010, Tittensor et al. 2014). The 2010 paper analyzed global terrestrial, freshwater, and marine biodiversity scenarios using a range of measures, including extinctions, changes in species abundance and habitat loss. Scenarios consistently indicate that biodiversity will continue to decline over the 21st century. The 2014 publication provided a comprehensive mid-term assessment of progress toward achieving global biodiversity targets using 55 indicator data sets.

Directorships of major research groups: FC, FERU, OCP. and Solving FCB (co-director with Dr. William Cheung)

From 2008 to 2013, I was director of the then UBC Fisheries Centre (FC) [now Institute for Oceans and Fisheries]. A research group made of about 120 faculty, students and stuff and an annual research budget of ~$6.5M. The Fisheries Centre contributed in a big way to making Canada the number one nation, and UBC the number one research hub in the world in the field of “fishery; fisheries; fishing” according to Elsevier’s SciVal academic metric software (

I am also the founding director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit (FERU). Since its inception in 2002, FERU has established itself as the world’s only research unit that studies the economics of fisheries in terms of their value, employment, and on the benefit of sustainable fisheries to society on a global basis. This has resulted in its products being used by bodies as varied as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the United Nations and other institutions governing our global fisheries commons.

Additionally, I served as founding research director of the SSHRC funded OceanCanada Partnership (OCP), which was a national research network consisting of 22 partners from academia, government, private sector and NGOs. Membership consists of people with a wide range of disciplines and perspectives (ecology, law, economics, ethics, oceanography, fisheries and geography). It actively engages and integrates expertise from academics, community stakeholders and the private and public sectors to fill an existing knowledge gap and to offer a new avenue for data sharing, cross-fertilization of ideas, co-creation of knowledge and collaborative building of research and governance capacity from coast to coast to coast.

Finally, I am currently co-directing the Solving the Sustainability Challenges at the Food-Climate-Biodiversity Nexus (Solving FCB) partnership project. The goal of this project is to is to support and facilitate the development of viable FCB solutions that explicitly consider their complex social and ecological contexts. The Solving-FCB Partnership brings together world-leading scholars and practitioners from academic institutes, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and government agencies to undertake transdisciplinary research that examines policies and human actions at the intersection of achieving food security, climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation goals.

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2023 - U. Rashid Sumaila