Dynamics of Social-ecological Traps: The Case of Small-scale Fisheries in The Philippines

Global fisheries are in crisis, with declining catches and degrading fishery resources. This threatens global food security, development, and the livelihoods of millions of small-scale fishers and their communities. One that governments have taken is to turn to aquaculture, which has become a fast growing global food production system. Nevertheless, intensive food production systems like fish farming could also result in pollution, resource decline and social inequity. Such perverse outcomes can be thought of as a social-ecological trap.

In this seminar, I will focus on the key findings of my PhD research based on case studies of small-scale fish farming systems in the Philippines. I used systems thinking - specifically a systems-based Human Ecology framework - as an ‘engagement tool’ with local stakeholders. The framework also allowed me to holistically assess small-scale fishery systems dynamics and unpack the processes resulting in social-ecological traps. I will also present the thesis’ contribution in understanding human-environment interactions and to identify possible leverage points to promote sustainable, resilient, and just small-scale fisheries.

About The Speaker

Jennifer Amparo is a PhD student (Human Ecology) at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University and an Australia Awards Scholar. She will be returning to the Philippines to resume her academic post at the College of Human Ecology, University of the Philippines Los Baños. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Jennifer has a MA degree in Sociology from the University of the Philippines Diliman and a BS degree in Human Ecology in UP Los Banos.

Her current research interest is on the application of systems thinking in understanding human-environment interactions (1) for sustainable smallholder food production systems like fisheries and fish farming; and (2) issues on health-pollution-development.

Jennifer’s PhD research was driven in part by her work experience in the health and pollution projects of Blacksmith Institute (now PureEarth) in the Philippines specifically in the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System (MMORS). She served as the organization’s Country Coordinator from 2009-2012 completing clean-up and site assessment projects in the Philippines supported by World Bank, Asian Development Bank, EU, UNIDO and Green Cross Switzerland and in partnership with government agencies, private sector, and community organizations.

This event is free and open to the public.