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Fish in Sustainable Food Systems

In many developing nations across the Indo-Pacific region, people depend heavily upon small-scale coastal fisheries for nutrition, food security and livelihoods. The Fish in Sustainable Food Systems program aims to improve the wellbeing of those people.

We are a multi-disciplinary group, and our researchers have expertise in the social sciences, marine biology, fisheries science, economics, and nutrition. We believe strongly in working with people in-country to produce solutions that fit their needs.

We take a collaborative, integrated approach and work with partner agencies, researchers, communities and NGO’s to develop solutions with the greatest likelihood of securing sustainable fisheries and ensuring positive outcomes for the communities who depend upon those fisheries.


Neil Andrew
Aurelie Delisle
Dirk Steenbergen
Hampus Eriksson
Tom Brewer
Lisa Wraith
Brooke Campbell
Owen Li
Anna Farmery
Jess Scott
Helani Kottage
Astrid Vachette

PhD students

Dorah Wilson
Matthew Roscher
Jeremie Kaltavara
Jessica Scott
Senoveva Mauli


University of Sydney
Pacific Community

Catching, trading and eating fish is central to the way of life in the Pacific islands. Most fish eaten by Pacific communities are caught close to shore, but these inshore fisheries face many threats, including overfishing. By 2030, an additional 100,000+ tonnes of fish per year will be needed across the region for good nutrition. Climate change and other external threats increase the risk that coastal fisheries will struggle to provide needed economic, cultural and nutritional benefits into the future.

Securing the sustainable supply of coastal fish is becoming recognised as a critical political priority by national governments and their regional organisations, and many communities recognise the need for change.

CBFM is based on the recognition that coastal communities should have an integral role to play in the sustainable management of coastal fisheries because coastal communities are the ones with the intimate knowledge of the marine resources, on which they rely for food and livelihood every day. Meaningful CBFM requires collaboration from the whole community – men, women, elders, youth, village council, and church – to collectively identify and address challenges to achieving sustainable fisheries. CBFM empowers communities; it strengthens their sense of ownership and management of their fisheries resources. CBFM facilitates fisheries management and the collective achievement of broader development outcomes through building partnerships and strengthening mutual communication pathways among communities, local, provincial and national government agencies.

Discover more: Pathways project

The Pacific food system is failing to provide the people of the region with nutritious food. Per capita agricultural and coastal fisheries production are declining, and imports of nutritionally unrewarding food are increasing. External drivers including urbanization, migration and globalized food trade, combined with these trends, are exerting a significant influence on the nutrition transition in the region. Pacific Island Countries are presently greatly affected by the triple burden of malnutrition – the coexistence of undernutrition, nutrient deficiencies, and obesity. The rise of non-communicable diseases as a result (e.g. Type 2 Diabetes and obesity) has major implications for economic growth, development and aid policy, and contributes to the personal tragedies of foreshortened lives.

The Food Systems project is about characterizing Pacific agri-food systems, recommending action to improve local food environments, and supporting national policies that promote healthier, more diverse diets for people in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

The project activities will translate to outcomes through two major pathways:

  1. An empirical foundation will be set for national policy interventions using national and regional analyses of production, consumption and trade of agricultural commodities and food. The Pacific Communities (SPC), national line agencies, and National Statistics Offices will be included in this work to facilitate access to regional forums and leaders, and also provide an effective partnership to influence policy across a range of sectors.
  2. Field-based activities will be used to directly understand and influence local food environments in Malaita and Western Provinces in Solomon Islands. Because local informal markets are the backbone or rural economies and food networks, we will analyse the roles of women and men in the dynamics of bringing food to market and buying and selling produce and more processed foods on offer in those markets.

This research is about creating long-term benefits for the Pacific region through improved policy and investments in agri-food systems. Food environment and value chain research will identify gendered pathways to improved nutrition, and new pathways to more diverse diets by seeking to influence the availability and acquisition of healthier foods.

This project brings together communities, provincial and national line agencies, UOW, SPC, Worldfish, CSIRO and the Charles Perkins Centre at University of Sydney.

Pathways Project

Strengthening & scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management in support of the New Song – “Pathways”.