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Title: Disentangling the net : the socio-ecological dynamics of mosquito net fishing
Author: Short, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 1169
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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The use of mosquito nets, largely handed out for free in efforts to control malaria, as fishing gear is anecdotally widespread. Mosquito net fishing (MNF) is condemned as a threat to food security and biodiversity due to its assumed but unsubstantiated 'indiscriminate' nature. A number of countries have banned the activity though no empirical investigation of the impacts or drivers of MNF exists. In this study I conduct a holistic investigation in to MNF, using a socio-ecological systems approach to characterise MNF, assessing its relevance to Sustainable Development Goals. I first review relevant assumptions of negative social and ecological impacts of MNF; discussing potential for positive impacts in terms of food and nutrition security, livelihoods and social equity. I present a conceptual framework which is then utilised to direct policy analysis across relevant sectors in a workshop setting through expert knowledge elicitation. Potential strategies to address MNF across health, development and fisheries governance structures are presented. I also conduct the first global assessment of the prevalence and characteristics of MNF, highlighting its widespread nature. Using a case study in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique I test both entrenched and emerging theories on the drivers and impacts of MNF in a coral reef fishery. Using a rapid assessment of fish landings I demonstrate the likely impact of MNF on catches of legal gears and biodiversity. MNF is a gendered activity, whereby predominantly androcentric methods show potential for negative impacts but gynocentric methods show limited resource overlap. I then use a household survey to contextualise the food security and livelihoods contributions of MNF. MNF is shown to be an important part of household livelihood profiles and particularly in adaptive strategies beyond subsistence in mixed agriculture and fishing communities. The research legitimises concern over MNF sustainability but highlights recklessness in current management based on broad, unsubstantiated assumptions; particularly ineffective enforcement policies. I demonstrate opportunities for MNF to enhance wellbeing and discuss this in light of relevant paradigm shifts, highlighting the critical need for further investigation.
Supervisor: Milner-Gulland, E. J. Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral