Conserving and managing fisheries is a complex task. Where, what, and why people fish changes through time and space, while the state of fish populations and the environment are only partly known. How to manage fish resources under uncertainty demands evaluation of potential factors influencing fisheries catch, at multiple scales. Often it is social or cultural factors that have the greatest impact, at other times it is the environmental context itself.

In this context, research in our lab aims to bring together relevant socio-cultural, economic, and ecological factors affecting small-scale fisheries in Canada and around the world through the use of statistical models.  Using the common language of probability, we seek to address specific natural resource questions affecting fish and fisheries within temperate, tropical, and polar regions, in both marine and freshwater environments. Typically this is through the use of Bayesian hierarchical models, which allow probabilisitic statements to be made about past and future fisheries states. Our goal in pursuing this research is to help fishers sustain their livelihoods while recognizing the limits inherent in harvesting a finite resource. In doing so, we work with fishers, governments, and non-governmental organizations to help make informed conservation and management decisions.

The lab is headed by Aaron MacNeil, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Ecology and Associate Professor of Biology at Dalhousie University. Our lab is welcome to people of all backgrounds who are passionate to learn in a collaborative setting.