What does getting small right mean to you?

By Vesna Kerezi, TBTI/OFI

Why do small-scale fisheries matter? What is the economic value of small-scale fisheries? What should you pay attention to when choosing what fish to eat? These were some of the main questions explored at the recent small-scale fisheries research symposium hosted by the Too Big To Ignore: Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research. This interactive event, held on November 26th as part of the MUN Research Week, was led by TBTI early career researchers and Geography graduate students Lil Saul, Nova Almine, and Anita Rayegani.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and initiate a conversation about the contributions of small-scale fisheries on a local and global scale, addressing topics such as of food justice, scale, governance, and creating just spaces for fishing people. The event, which was open to the Memorial’s students and the general public, encouraged open, honest, and curious discussion and an exchange of lived experiences, all within the context of small-scale fisheries. Ultimately, the organizers were interested in setting up a conversation around: what does getting small right mean to you?

The first part of the event consisted of an hour-long online symposium during which the organizers offered a quick overview of small-scale fisheries, using stories and data to build a case of why small-scale fisheries are “too big to ignore”, both globally and in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The symposium included a participatory exercise when the audience shared their reflections on why small-scale fisheries matter. Their input is shown in the picture below.

The second half of the event took place in-person at Memorial’s St. John's campus, where the organizers set up a small info-booth with the intention to engage students into a dialogue about the fisheries. The visitors could choose to answer questions about small-scale fisheries or pose questions to the organizers. According to one of the organizers, what surprised them the most about the visitors' knowledge about small-scale fisheries was:

“... How aware the visitors were of the many contributions of the small-scale fisheries on a global scale. At the same time, even those born and raised in Newfoundland whose family members were fishing, were not aware of the economic values of the inshore fisheries in this province. Because of the history of the cod moratorium, people often view fishing as not a very "big" industry economically. This is not the case! We were elated to tell them that Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries will likely contribute over a billion dollars in landed value by the end of this year! A large part of this comes from the inshore/ small-scale sector.” - Lil Saul

Reflecting upon the event and the relevance of such initiatives, another organizer said:

“We were hoping that we could spread a message to the world about the important contributions of small-scale fisheries with this event. Small-scale fisheries play an integral role in providing fresh, affordable, and nutritious fish for the local community and livelihoods and many more, but they are often overlooked. We need to keep this conversation going because small-scale fisheries are too big to ignore.” - Nova Almine

The third organizer concluded by saying:

“Interactive outreach events are always needed but especially when the research is directly related to communities. It's a two-way road really, sharing research findings, lived experiences, and context-specific realities. It allows our perspectives and understandings to evolve.” - Anita Rayegani

From left: Nova Almine, Anita Rayegani and Lil Saul


Vesna Kerezi is a project manager and communication specialist who has been working with Too Big To Ignore Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research (TBTI) since 2013. In 2021, she became a project coordinator of the Ocean Frontier Institute Module I. A geographer by training, she holds a MSc from Memorial University, Canada. Her interests lie in human dimensions of small-scale fisheries, social science communication, and knowledge mobilization.