RESEARCHER OF THE MONTH
Meet Ruyel Miah, OFI Module I Master's student
My research is about access to markets for small-scale fisheries. The purpose of my study is to examine the existing marketing structure for small-scale fisheries and how the market is governed, as well as the interactions at structural and actor levels in the markets.
A fish market in rural Bangladesh; Alipur, Patuakhali; March 22, 2019; ©Ruyel Miah
I am a Master’s student in the Department of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, funded by the Ocean Frontier Institute. Currently I am working on access to markets for small-scale fisheries under the Sub-Module I-1 (i.e., Access to Resources and Markets). I have completed my Bachelor of Science in Fisheries from Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet, Bangladesh. My research interests are on small-scale fisheries governance, markets access and value chain in fisheries, vulnerability and viability of small-scale fisheries, conservation and sustainability of marine fisheries resources.
What is your research about? What are you currently working on?
My research is about access to markets for small-scale fisheries. The purpose of my study is to examine the existing marketing structure for small-scale fisheries and how the market is governed, as well as the interactions at structural and actor levels in the markets. Currently, I am working on a global scan regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on access to markets for small-scale fisheries with a special emphasis on Atlantic Canada.
I originally planned to focus my study on small-scale fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I had to change my research plan because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, my research now has two key parts: the global scan of the impact of COVID-19 on small-scale fisheries in terms of access to markets, with an emphasis on Atlantic Canada. I also plan to conduct research remotely looking at markets for mud crab in Bangladesh and snow crab in Newfoundland.
What drew you to explore this topic originally?
The trade of small-scale fisheries products has the potential to increase income, alleviate poverty, and provide employment opportunities. Fish and fish-related products are the most traded seafood commodity globally, where a significant portion of trade comes from small-scale fisheries. However, small-scale fisheries face market access barriers that prevent them from receiving full benefits, including unfair pricing and lack of bargaining power with sellers. Small-scale fisherfolks often interact with governing bodies, in a majority of the cases based on those issues.
What is the most interesting aspect of your research? Share something you have discovered through your research so far?
The most interesting aspect of my research is that the issues around access to markets are multidimensional. The market is a social institution that involves interactions between members of the society in the form of transactions. I found a big difference in terms of market structures between developing and developed countries. Direct sale is a big issue in many developed countries, such as in the US and Canada, but direct sales are a regular phenomenon in developing countries like in India and Bangladesh. I also found that there are different interactions both at the actor levels (e.g., fishers’ participation in decision making and opportunities to interact with governing bodies) and the structural levels (e.g., self-governance, co-governance, and hierarchical governance) of markets.
How does your research address present day fisheries issues in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere? How does it help inform governance responses for coastal communities in the province in the context of change?
Small-scale fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador receive less attention than their large-scale counterparts and face many market access barriers. Interactions between the provincial government and the small-scale fisheries sector in Newfoundland and Labrador are mostly about licensing and limiting direct sales of fish to individual consumers and restaurants. Knowing about these interactions can help determine how to motivate and incentivize different stakeholders to engage in pathways to improve market access for small-scale fisheries.
The present issues of small-scale fisheries in accessing markets suggest that there is no single fix that will fit for all. A good fix will require an understanding of the context where small-scale fisheries operate, and in the case of access to markets, how the markets are structured and governed.
What is the one thing you would like the general public to know about your research?
Access to markets for small-scale fisheries is a complex governance problem that requires a broad understanding and careful assessment of the natural, social and governing conditions associated with the fisheries.
What are the next steps and what do you want to achieve with your research?
My research mainly consists of three parts. In the first part, I am conducting a global scan on the impacts of COVID-19 in terms of access to markets for small-scale fisheries. In the second part, I will be conducting two remote case studies on mud crab fishery in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh and snow crab fishery in Newfoundland, Canada. The two case studies that I will conduct in Bangladesh and Newfoundland will examine how markets are structured and governed, and whether they facilitate or inhibit access for small-scale fisheries.
The first part of my study will provide an understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on small-scale fisheries and how it further complicated access to markets. This part will also provide some lessons that can inform how we can individually and collectively respond to this kind of crisis in the future. The analysis of results from the two case studies will suggest ways to minimize the complexities around market access for small-scale fisheries and better governance of markets.
What do you like doing when you are not working on research?
I am a fan of different kinds of sports, especially Cricket, Badminton, and Football. At my leisure, I enjoy my time playing cricket and badminton for the most part. Besides, I like volunteering activities and recreational fishing.
Ruyel is a Master’s student in the Department of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, funded by the Ocean Frontier Institute. Currently, he is working on access to markets for small-scale fisheries under the Sub-Module I-1 (i.e., Access to Resources and Markets). He has completed his Bachelor of Science in Fisheries from Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet, Bangladesh. His research interests include small-scale fisheries governance, markets access and value chain in fisheries, vulnerability and viability of SSF, conservation and sustainability of marine fisheries resources.