Rashid Sumaila named University Killam Professor

Dr. Rashid Sumaila, 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, is one of six faculty members who have been named by UBC as a University Killam Professor. The University Killam Professorship is the highest honour that UBC can confer on a faculty member, and recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields, and who have received international recognition for their talents and efforts.

“I feel massively honoured by this recognition,” said Dr. Sumaila. “This achievement would not have been possible without the support of my students, postdocs, research associates and collaborators worldwide.”

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 Economics, he is also Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit and the SSHRC sponsored OceanCanada Partnership. 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. This includes his ‘fish bank’ concept for the high seas that has the potential to significantly advance ocean conservation on a global scale, and using “intergeneration discount rates” for natural resource projects.



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 OECD, the African Union, and World Trade Organization.

Given his stature as both a researcher and a partnership builder, Dr. Sumaila has given numerous public lectures around the world, including, notably serving as “Scene-Setter” for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2016 Our Ocean Conference, as well as making presentations at the White House, the U.S. Congress, the Canadian Parliament, the British House of Lords, the St James Palace (at the invitation of Prince Charles), the European Parliament, the African Union, and the United Nations. Dr. Sumaila regularly conducts outreach activities to economically disadvantaged populations such as small-scale fishers in Africa and indigenous peoples in Canada.

Beyond those traditional engagements, Dr. Sumaila engages with media because he believes he has an obligation to present his work to the wider public and engage with society. He has made over 500 media appearances, with the goal of informing policy makers and the public, and his work has generated a great deal of interest by international media, including, the New York Times, The Economist, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Globe and Mail, VOA, CBC News, and the Vancouver Sun.

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. 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. Evgeny Pakhomov, Director of the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries said that Dr. Sumaila “is a truly remarkable scientist and teacher, outstanding scholar and human being. He is very deserving of the designation of University Killam Professor, and we are very happy for this extraordinary colleague, whom we are also happy to call a friend.”

In conjunction with receiving the University Killam Professorship, Dr. Sumaila will deliver a public lecture on his research. Details for this lecture will be announced in the coming months.