Dr. Rashid Sumaila wins SSHRC’s Impact Award, Partnership Category

Dr. Rashid Sumaila, University Killam Professor in UBC Science’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, as well as the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs in the Faculty of Arts, has won the 2021 Impact Award – Partnership category, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Prof. Sumaila is one of the world’s most innovative researchers on the future of the oceans. A Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Interdisciplinary Ocean and Fisheries, and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, his research integrates social, economic and fisheries sciences to build novel pathways towards sustainable fisheries. Focusing on bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, and the economics of high seas and deep seas fisheries, his work has challenged today’s approaches to marine governance, generating exciting new ways of thinking about our relationship to the marine biosphere.

Dr. Sumaila is also Project Director of the SSHRC sponsored OceanCanada Partnership (OCP), and it is for his work with this unit that he won the SSHRC Impact Partnership Award. This six-year research initiative (2014-2020, extended to March 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) is currently comprised of 22 formal research partners, including universities from coast to coast, community organizations, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Its central goal is to understand and address threats facing Canada’s Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific coastal-ocean regions and seek opportunities to develop a shared vision for the future of Canada’s oceans – one that promotes the health and well-being of people living on coasts as well as the marine environment. This highly interdisciplinary research consortium integrates a wide range of expertise from many fields of study, including economics, law, geography, ethics, fisheries science, and oceanography, with the aim of generating insights from across these broad fields with local and traditional knowledge in order to help inform policies at the regional and national levels that are responsive to community needs.

The Partnership has been amazingly productive, leading one top US scholar to state that its “list of outputs is dizzying, to say the least!” Outputs from the OCP include: over 440 publications; over 540 presentations, meetings and workshops; 50+ films, documentaries, and videos; and, at least 63 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows trained.

“This award means a lot to me for at least two reasons. First, it is awarded by SSHRC, the number 1 national granting and research authority when it comes to social sciences and humanities. Therefore, an endorsement by SSHRC is huge. Second, this is an impact award, it is not just about publishing and leaving your work on the pages of journals, but about getting the information into the hands of the public and policy-makers, i.e., those who can actually do something with the information,” said Dr. Sumaila. “This award confirms that our OceanCanada Partnership has succeeded in generating good quality and impactful scientific insights. SSHRC + Impact makes this award very special to me!!”

Dr. Sumaila complements his research with leadership in, and development of, interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research partnerships. He was the coordinating author of the fisheries chapter of UNEP’s Green Economy Report, part of the group that developed UNEP’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 and 4, and also served as the Team Leader of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the World Economic Forum’s E15 Initiative Fisheries and Oceans expert group. He serves on the High-Level Panel (HLP) on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 , participated on the UN expert panel to develop a conceptual framework for the work of the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the UN (IPBES), and was recently asked to join the Expert Group for the High Level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, struck by the Prime Minister of Norway and President of the Republic of Palau. In addition, he continues to be active at the science-policy interface, bringing his expert scientific knowledge into policy and governance discussions through collaboration with NGOs, national governments, and international organizations such as the World Bank, the African Union, and World Trade Organization.

Among his other distinctions, Dr. Sumaila was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2019, and won the Volvo Environment Prize and the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science in 2017. Web of Science recently named him among its list of most highly cited researcher for 2021. Dr. Sumaila is definitely well cited: according to Google Scholar (November 2021), he has over 37,200 citations, a h-index of 93 and an i10-index of 351. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Oceana, and the Science Advisory Board of WWF-Canada as well as several journal editorial boards including those of Science Advances, Environmental & Resource Economics, and Marine Policy.

“Dr. Sumaila is a role-model for us. A world-leading scholar who is deeply committed to improving environmental sustainability and the well-being and equity of people in the world, and who uses his knowledge to inform policy discussion at the highest level”, said Dr. William Cheung, professor and Director of UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. “This Award is a well-deserved recognition of such remarkable achievement and we are very proud to have him as colleague, mentor, and friend.”