Researcher in Profile: Olga Koubrak

Olga Koubrak is a third year PhD student at the Marine and Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University. She is a member of OceanCanada’s Law and Policy Working Group, contributing to the Changing Oceans theme. As fish stocks distribution shifts in response to changing climate, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) must ensure that they consider these changes in their research, management and institutional arrangements. Olga’s current project is reviewing four RFMOs in the North Pacific to see how these organizations are tackling the issue of climate change.

Olga is also interested in conservation of marine species at risk at national and international levels. After writing her Master’s thesis on legal frameworks protecting sawfish in the Caribbean, she collaborated with scientists, policymakers and NGOs working in the region to bring about implementation of the agreed-upon commitments. All species of sawfish, a shark-like ray with a long toothy rostra (as in the photo), are critically endangered world-wide. Two species of sawfish are found in the Caribbean, making the region a lifeboat for these unique animals. Olga is also involved in the development of the Caribbean Regional Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks and Rays and assists members of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST) with legal questions.

In the Canadian context, Olga is part of the team that is reviewing the federal government’s policy response to the unprecedented level of right whale mortality in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017. She also seeks to identify legal barriers to the application of dynamic ocean management tools to the protection of Canadian species at risk and develop solutions. This research involves balancing the legal principles of certainty and fairness with the ecological reality of change and uncertainty.