An opportunity in the face of challenge

Meet some of the international students based at Memorial University, Canada, that have been hired by TBTI and our partners as part of the ‘Covid-19 Job’ initiative‘.  This was a way to provide a much needed job opportunity to students who have lost their income and financial support as a result of the Covid-19 closures. Many of these students found themselves in a truly perilous situation. At the same time, this was an opportunity for projects to continue despite the restriction in field- and lab-based research.

Aminul Haque
Originally from Bangladesh, Aminul is currently enrolled in the Master of Philosophy program at Memorial University.

Because I come from a river irrigated country, fisheries and fishers are two common words to me. However, working in this project has given me a vivid idea about different aspects of fisheries, especially the small-scale fisheries that most local fishers depend on in my country, which was alien to me.

Most people in our country live in rural areas and rely on fish caught by local fishermen. Despite their contribution to meeting a significant part of national food demand, small-scale fishers are one of the neglected groups in society. The profession of fishing is often underestimated, and people associated with it are deprived of social values. They also struggle to compete with commercial fisheries regarding market access resulting in low profit and miserable lifestyles at the end of the day.

Learning about small-scale fisheries is an excellent achievement of my student life as I have a passion for working for the underprivileged people of my country in the future. I hope I can apply the knowledge gained from this project to improving small-scale fisheries in my country. This experience will enhance my enthusiasm for fisheries further and motivate me to get engaged in more projects related to small-scale fisheries.

Eric Oboku
Originally from Ghana, Eric is currently studying economics at Memorial University. His research interest is in Health, Resource and Environmental Economics.

I am currently working on ‘Whale Conservation in Newfoundland’ so I knew about fisheries prior to starting this project. The fisheries sector in my country creates lots of jobs for the active labour force and it is my desire that the government undertake policies to improve the sector. I am always intrigued to learn about small-scale fisheries or fisheries in general. I love to eat fish and I believe they are wonderful creatures. [During this project], I hope to learn more about the fisheries industries in most countries and also sharpen my already acquired research skills.

Hoda Tafvizi 
Hoda is enrolled in a PhD Civil-Environmental Engineering program at Memorial University. She completed her MSc and undergraduate studies in her home country of Iran. Her PhD thesis is about efficient methods of water treatment for decreasing disinfection by-products, using Newfoundland and Labrador waters as a case study.

Fishing industry is of high importance in my home country as we have two long coastlines, both on the north and south. Besides, many people in the coastal areas are earning their livelihood by working for large-scale or small-scale fisheries. 

Before joining the SSF research group, I did not know anything about fisheries. Aquaculture and fishing is an extensive area of study that I have never thought about! Now I am learning about the problems in the fishing industry and especially about the obstacles for small-scale fishing sector.

Mostafa El Halimi 
Mostafa is pursuing a Master of Environmental Science at Memorial University where his research project assesses the environmental impacts of oil spills from the marine shipping activities in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is originally from Tangier, Morocco.

A significant part of my academic career was mostly focused on fisheries technology and fisheries management. I did a bachelor of fisheries, which allowed me to work on board of merchant marine and factory ships as a deck officer.

Fisheries in Morocco sustains the livelihood of thousands of people… From my experience, I can say that the safety standards are high, and each boat is assigned a quota based on the area where fishing activities take place. The major issue that we have is related to factory vessels, which do not respect the environmental laws and cause a fast depletion of our fish stocks.

I find learning about the policies that pertain to small-scale fisheries very interesting, particularly the similarities between fisheries policies in different countries. It is, however, challenging to get a holistic idea about the laws and policies that govern small-scale fisheries, as they are not explicitly defined.

Originally, I was supposed to undertake an internship in the spring semester to gain experience as a research assistant/analyst in my field of study but due to the outbreak of COVID19, most of these internships were cancelled. I am glad that I got this opportunity that matches my research interest and will add a significant value to my resume.

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