Student Research

Mariska Bottema
PhD Student, Wageningen University

Area-based management (AM) in aquaculture recognizes that the risk at any one farm is dependent on the quality of the wider environment within which that farm is embedded, and that the social relations that provide access to inputs, expertise and governance of common resources also extend beyond the farm. There are limited accounts of AM in aquaculture, and while AM is emerging as a key policy approach we do not yet have a fundamental understanding of how such approaches can present a more effective means of organizing aquaculture. It is unclear whether AM can address sharing environmental risks and integrate other activities in a landscape. The objective of this thesis is to investigate what constitutes AM governance arrangements in aquaculture, how environmental risk is incorporated in these arrangements and how they are institutionalized in aquaculture management. The research will look at different configurations of AM in aquaculture, determine what their components are, and how they come together in the formation of environmental approaches which transcend farm-level management. This research will be carried out applying ecological modernization theory, and the analysis will be built around three key dimensions: materiality, spatiality and collaboration. Through a number of case studies in South East Asia and China AM will be studied at four levels: the aquaculture producer, hybrid governance arrangements formed at cluster level, state institutions and private institutions in the form of certification and retail-led aquaculture improvement projects.

Chattrabhorn Bua-in
Master’s Student, Chiang Mai University

REDD+ (Reducing Emission of Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhance of Carbon Stocks) is a project which aims to reduce the greenhouse gases resulting from deforestation and forest degradation and increase forest carbon stocks. These are carried out in many developing countries due to the need for forest preservation and investment on the development of quality of life. It is a new method of conservation based on the Market Mechanism used to decrease deforestation and increase the tree carbon stocks. Nevertheless, for the REDD+ operation in other provinces in Thailand, there should be some studies, the carrying out of experiments and together with community education including provisions of guarding the community rights. Because within the context of Thai society, the communities that live in the forest area or nearby entirely have inter-relationship but different methods of using living resources from the forests. For example, HuaThung Village was the pioneer community of the REDD+ project. That was why I have become interested in studying the usage of REDD+ mechanism to manage the natural resources and understanding what reasons does the organization of the government offices of Thailand adopt REDD+ into environment conservation? The study has also included of the social interaction between the government officials and the villagers.

Yingbin Guo
Master’s Student, International Relations, Yunnan University

In Longling County the market for medicinal Dendrobium has existed since the 1950s. Although many other industries began to decline as a result of economic downturn, the Dendrobium industry has been thriving for a period of time. Therefore, the county government joined with forestry, science and technology, association of Dendrobium and other related departments to guide the industrial development of Dendrobium, and provide preferential loan interest and assistance to growers, and the growers built a lot of planting base one after the another. As for the newly established Dendrobium companies, relevant departments provided tax exemptions and cheap land rent resulting in an increase of growers into the sector. With the increase of the growers, in 2013, expanding planting area and almost unchanged market demand had created an imbalance between supply and demand and prices started to fall. For many growers, this means half of the investment cost was not recovered, not to mention profit. Over the next 2~4 years, if the price of Dendrobium does not rise, then many farmers will be unable to repay their loan and they will encounter personal or family crisis. At present, the common aspiration of growers is to find markets for their produce, and they hope that they can get help from the departments, companies and enterprises. The emergence of this situation, raises many questions such as: did the growers make a mistake? Where did they go wrong in their decision making? This research will look at the opportunities for governing through non-state actions and entities to address such issues.


Courtney Kehoe

Master’s Student, University of Ottawa

Using Thailand as a case study, the following research provides a more nuanced understanding of ecological change within Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) and considers the extent to which communities can actually become involved in fisheries management, and whether or not co-management of SSF is in fact a viable governance option. It does so by asking the following questions:

  1. How has the social and ecological state of SSF in Thailand changed over the years, according to fishers?
  2. What forms of local governance systems are in place in Thailand to manage SSF?

Focusing on SSF in the village of Khan Kradai in Prachuap Khiri Khan province as a case study, and approaching these questions from a social-ecological systems perspective, this research paints a comprehensive picture of SSF in Thailand. In asking the first research question, details on both ecological determinants (species abundance, size, catch-per-unit-effort, seasonal variability) and social determinants (history of use, fishing practices, gear used, rules in use, governing institutions) of SSF are ascertained. These details are then used to better understand the reasons why certain forms of local governance (identified vis-a-vis the second research question) have come to exist and their perceived effectiveness.

Eza King

Master’s Student, Chiang Mai University

This research will aim to contribute to the understanding of market-based natural resource governance projects in general and their potential usefulness as a conservation tool to restore and conserve watershed forestlands in Northern Thailand. The research will study the case of AURA PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services), where Aura (a bottled mineral water company) has make payments for efforts to reforest a plot of land upland from their water source. This research will identify new expertise or understandings that result from the AURA PES project and what each stakeholder expects for the outcomes and will examine if the project exasperates or helps alleviate contesting claims to authority over forestland stewardship.  It will be guided by the following research questions:

   1) What was the operational process of the AURA PES project and how are actors in this project negotiating for their own benefit?

  2) What new environmental expertise resulted from the project and how were they promoted?

  3) How has the AURA PES project influence local perceptions of territoriality or impacted any existing territorial conflicts?

Rodney Kirarock

The growth and development of fisheries ecolabeling schemes in the Western and Central Pacific is a new trend of market based environmental governance. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) free-school skipjack tuna fishery signifies the shift from the traditional state regulation to non-state market driven (NSMD) governance framework. Using this framework, the PNA has developed its Pacifical brand to promote the PNA and market its products.

This research is a case study in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the biggest player in the PNA. It aims to analyse the shift from state control to NSMD governance, the interaction of environmental governance in fisheries between public and private institutions, and the economic and development potential arising from the MSC. Generally, the research attempts to answer three broad questions – (i) What are the PNA policies and strategies in managing and controlling the tuna fishery?; (ii) Does the PNA MSC scheme improve PNA management and control over tuna resources?; and (iii) What are the economic and development potentials of the PNA Pacifical model?

Read Rodney’s research here: Thesis Rodney Kirarock

Renée McWhirter

Master’s Student, Geography, York University

Summary: This research will look at the increase in market-based conservation efforts in Southeast Asia and the proliferation of non-state actors engaging in governance strategies. Rapid economic development in Vietnam has pushed the country into the limelight for many transnational organisations and businesses. Traditionally in Vietnam, the consumption of wild meat has been associated with status and power. Wild meat also provides important food and livelihood functions for people living in rural tropical regions. The central research questions which guide my research are: What is wild meat in Vietnam, to whom? And, how do NGOs fit into broader narratives of conservation and environmental governance. Several sub-questions come from this including: Who is included in defining wild meat? How do these stakeholders understand and perform their role in the consumption or conservation of various wild meat species? How does the performance of gender influence consumption or conservation strategies? Are current market-based strategies perceived as ‘successful’ by various stakeholders in wild meat?


Yavanna Puts
Msc Applied Communication Science (ACS) 2016, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Title: Influence of framing on the Thai fisheries reform
Summary: My research concerns the different frames of solving issues in the Thai fishing industry, specifically labour abuse. Actors in the Thai fishing industry have had an opportunity to show leadership in sustainable development, especially in the relationship between environmental and social sustainability. My research focuses on these opportunities by analyzing different approaches to combating labour abuse. There are two aspects to this research: first, an analysis of the frames in the pressures to reform the Thai fisheries that the Thai industry and government is experiencing from international trade partners, such as the EU and the US. Second, an overview of the different responses that have come from the government and industry actors, and how these regulations and projects affect and represent migrant workers and fishers. My hypothesis is that collaborations with groups that represent or work closely with migrant workers and fishers see different solutions from the international community, and their insights provide the most space for change.


Mom Sary

M.A student, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University

Summary: This research attempts to describe and analyze state and non-state actor interactions in mangrove resource management through the establishment of Community Protected Areas (CPAs) including the different strategies that involve local people and their livelihood outcomes. Moreover, possibilities of positive mangrove governance can be supplemented through the models and learning from state and non-state actors’ interactions in other locations. In particular the research seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the key factors that influence the current process and patterns of decentralization for CPA management? How are stakeholders involved as hybrid governance system in mangrove conservation and management?
  2. How does the local community perceive decentralization and what tools or processes are used to negotiate with the dominant power for both community livelihoods and mangrove forest conservation? What differences are there within the community in how they understand and negotiate important issues?
  3. How are non-state market driven (NSMD) systems of environmental governance viewed and used by state actors, villagers, and NGOs as alternative methods for governance of mangrove forest in Peam Krasoap Wildlife Sanctuary?


Olivia Tran

Master’s Student, School of International Development and Globalization, University of Ottawa

Title: Migrant Exploitation in Thai Fisheries: An Institutional Landscape of Human Trafficking Responses and Opportunities for Innovative Solutions

Summary: My research examines how organizations working on labour exploitation in the Thai fisheries sector are responding to the intense interest and funding opportunities made available for this issue.  Taking a step back to analyze the institutional landscape of organizations involved, their mandates, their priorities, funding patterns, and cooperation with others will allow for an engaging overview of the challenges and opportunities in addressing labour trafficking into fishing.  The following research questions will be the main focus of the field research:

  1. How are the responses of NGO and international organizations to fishers exploitation different from past responses to trafficking trends such as sexual exploitation?
  2. What new, innovative approaches to labour exploitation are being pursued? Why are they innovative and what factors enabled their implementation?
  3. How can the involvement of big business promote greater change? If so, is this change positive, negative, or ambiguous?


Wichitta Uttamamunee

Master’s Student, Marine & Coastal Resources Institute, Prince of Songkla University

Title: The Development Process of a Small-Scale Fisheries Business for Consumer-Friendly Fisheries Products: A Case Study of the “Fisher Folk Shop”, Prachuap Khiri Khan

Small-scale fishermen have learned to adjust themselves through five decades of development in Thailand. After a few decades of organizing themselves to safeguard their coastal resources from the negative effects of commercial fishing and businesses, and attempting to conserve and rehabilitate their shoreline resources with support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other governmental agencies, small-scale fishermen are aware that they must make more changes if they are to survive. The global trend toward promoting environmental-friendly products and the lack of such products, has led small-scale fishermen to envisage new production and distribution methods that will provide consumers with frozen, processed, eco-friendly certified aquatic animal products and fishermen with livable wages. This research will examine this process using the following research questions:

  1. What have been the strategic and operational planning processes of the Fisher Folk Shop? What are the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders? What factors obstruct and facilitate the processes?
  2. What are the outcomes and impact, both intended and unintended, of the processes and how can these outcomes inform future projects?
  3. What should be the approaches to developing a small-scale fishery business for consumer-friendly fishery products (the “Fisher Folk Shop”) as a collaboration of small-scale fishermen groups and  NGO staff ?

Lisa van Wageningen

MSc International Development Studies – Sustainable Development Diplomacy
Wageningen University and Research Centre

Summary: Sustainability certification, covering both social and environmental dimensions, is a relatively recent yet prominent feature of aquaculture governance. In these standards a difference is made between environmental on the one hand and social on the other, which is taken for granted. For a start, what are the consequences of treating social and environmental principles as different challenges? And how are social and environmental challenges defined, institutionalised and regulated in practice? This paper addresses these questions by retracing the WWF-led Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogue, a multi-stakeholder initiative that led the standards now owned by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). The analysis focuses on principle two and three of the Standard that concern both the environmental and social impacts of the location of the shrimp farm. By focusing on sustainability certification as an assemblage, the paper analyses how social and environmental standards represent negotiated boundaries: how they have been constructed, including and excluding spaces, objects, subjects, experts and expertise. The results demonstrate the consequences of making boundaries through a standard and of dividing social and environmental regulation in the context of aquaculture. The paper concludes that the environmental-social boundary is mainly related to expertise, that including social issues in the standards leads to more inclusion in the environmental domain, that boundaries are more flexible in their interpretation than in the negotiation, and that the boundaries are opened up for negotiation in implementing the standard. These results show the value of a poststructuralist approach in researching sustainability certification.

Read Lisa’s research here: Thesis Lisa van Wageningen and Appendix-1

Kyle Wagner

Master’s Student, Geography, York University

Summary: The main purpose of this study is to better understand the particular mechanisms used by ecotourism projects to incentivize residents that reside in protected areas to actively conserve the surrounding wildlife. My objective is to understand the mechanisms and underlying logics that inform the creation of this ecotourism project in NEPL NBCA, and to understand how the ecotourism project has changed local interactions with their environment. The following two questions aim to meet this objective: 1) What are the mechanisms and underlying logics that inform the creation of this ecotourism project for conserving biodiversity and protecting wildlife species in the NEPL NBCA? 2) How have these mechanisms changed local interactions with their environment (such as wildlife hunting and agricultural practices), and more broadly altered their livelihoods?