There will be a Food For Thought seminar on 27 February 2019 (Wednesday), from 01:15 PM to 02:00 PM (GMT +8 hours) at the Auditorium, WorldFish HQ. The presentation will be given by Dr. Hampus Eriksson on ‘White elephants, fishwinners and the innovation catch’. The session will also be streamed live via Skype for Business for audiences participating remotely at the following hyperlink: https://bit.ly/2Gtujfg
Making improvements to the livelihoods of people who catch, process or trade fish, is a critical pathway to poverty reduction and food security in the Pacific Islands. Governments and their development partners continue to search for better ways to support the small-scale fisheries sector.
The question is how can support initiatives be made to have lasting impacts?
For decades, delivering service to support fish-based livelihoods in rural and remote geographies has followed old development blueprints and “big push” economic modernization theory. The main emphasis has been to modernise fishing and trading practice by building fisheries centers to deliver cold storage and help facilitate trade. But they commonly end up as white elephants -- expensive buildings that no one uses. The seminal research on rural livelihoods during the 1980’s and 90’s was meant to replace our thinking around this type of development, but this era of research brought forward a theory-heavy view of rural livelihoods focused on “diversification”. Many of the projects that it inspired and that was meant to replace the old modernization theory also ended up as white-elephants. For example, community led mariculture enterprises disintegrate when projects finish or coconut crushing mills become dilapidated when maintenance costs escalate.
So what are rural fishers actually meant to diversify into, and how?
Listening to the ideas of the people who fish, process, and trade fish provides a strong foundation for an alternative model of enhancing fish-based livelihoods through research. However, these participatory approaches fail to achieve impact at scale. This is the innovation catch: local solutions to local problems cannot be scaled by definition.
Since 2016, WorldFish and Rokotanikeni – a rural women’s association in Solomon Islands – have experimented with the idea to operate enterprises around solar freezers for marketing and storing fish. I will use this example of “fishwinners” in Solomon Islands to help ground some of the theory heavy narratives in practice.
Dr. Hampus Eriksson is a Senior Scientist at WorldFish and a Senior Honorary Fellow at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong.
Please come along to what promises to be a stimulating and interesting talk. Hope to see you there!