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Charting a Transdisciplinary Future for Canadian SSF


Co-created opportunities are needed to support lives and livelihoods in Canadian small-scale fisheries now and into the future. To discuss those opportunities, early career researchers of the Ocean Frontier Institute Module I (OFI-I) and Small-Scale Fisheries Canada (SSF-CAN) came together in a session on June 8th, 2021, the final day of the SSF Open House. The session launched for 2022 the Getting IT Right (GITR) Dialogue and SSF-CAN’s forthcoming e-book, Thinking BIG about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada. To begin the session, Evan J. Andrews (session organizer) presented a short video. Then, in a panel facilitated by Andrews and Christine Knott, seven SSF-CAN members discussed getting Atlantic Canadian small-scale fisheries right.

The session captured renewed attention to SSF lives and livelihoods in Canada. Canada is now a friend of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. There has been returned interest in making SSF in Canada more visible considering the potential for the SSF Guidelines to shape SSF lives and livelihoods in Canada. By focusing on Atlantic Canada and using the three themes for the GITR dialogue, the panelists discussed research and practice opportunities for Atlantic Canadian SSFs related to (1) the Blue Economy, (2) fisheries and oceans governance, and (3) future social-ecological change.

The GITR themes promoted new research reflections. Sara Langer Smith and Emily Reid-Musson reflected on a Blue Economy in Canada. Langer Smith discussed learning from SSF in Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, that have persisted through new local value chains amid dramatic social-ecological change. Reid-Musson drew attention to critical thinking about justice and equity to guide Blue Economy establishment and implementation. In reflecting on fisheries and oceans governance theme, Sondra Eger highlighted the importance of integrated management approaches to address dynamic and complex realities of SSF in Canada. María Andrée López Gómez discussed policy challenges and opportunities for SSF livelihoods regarding recruitment, training, and retention of SSF workers. Jamie Snook reminded of the importance of fisheries co-management, taking attendees into the work of the Torngat Joint Fisheries Board in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. Last, Zaman Sajid and Frederic Cyr discussed learning for the future. Sajid reminded about the importance of anticipating risk for SSF from engineering perspectives and beyond. Cyr highlight how changes to SSF in les Îles de la Madeleine, Québec, during COVID-19 created some opportunities to imagine future food security amid uncertainty and change.

The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture and 4th World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress will be important catalysts for advancing transdisciplinarity for Canadian SSF. The session demonstrated energy and hope to meet 2022’s celebrations and events with contributions based in GITR and SSF-CAN that continue to enrich a transdisciplinary future for SSF in Canada. The session illustrated the usefulness of the GITR themes—the Blue Economy, fisheries and oceans governance, and the future—for examining SSF in Atlantic Canada, while creating opportunities to look at SSF-CAN research through different thematic lenses. As GITR events proceed, SSF-CAN members will seek to learn from the GITR Dialogue and broaden perspectives by advancing SSF research across Canada through its e-book.

SSF-CAN: Reflections for IYAFA and 4WSFC

The year, 2022, is a big year for SSF-CAN. We intend to publish and launch the network’s first written output, its e-book, Thinking BIG about Small-Scale Fisheries in Canada. In advance of the launch, we also intend to host a series of digital discussions about cases in the e-book.

It is our hope to bring SSF-CAN partners and researchers from across Canada to Newfoundland and Labrador for the 4WSFC, and are currently looking at funding opportunities to reach this goal. During the 4WSFC, we intend to have a session that reveals opportunities to learn from partners and researchers in SSF-CAN. As a value-added opportunity, we will seek work collaboratively on a manuscript as well as discuss potential opportunities for research funding to formalize the network.

Themes of interest for the network are learning across diverse problem contexts to understand local change and governance, as well building capacity to work locally to anticipate future changes and address them through governance.

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