Environmental social scientist receives prestigious fellowship in marine conservation

Professor Christina Hicks
Professor Christina Hicks

A Lancaster University Professor is set to investigate the links between finance and overfishing in East and West Africa.

Professor Christina Hicks, an environmental social scientist in Lancaster Environment Centre, has been awarded the 2024 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. The Fellowship connects her to a network of the world's leading marine scientists for life and includes $150,000 funding over three years to map the landscape of fisheries finance, helping to inform international conservation policies.

Focusing on Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania and Seychelles, Professor Hicks will identify which sources of finance are having the greatest influence on the overexploitation of marine ecosystems in East and West Africa.

Her work will also evaluate the opportunities, and barriers, to new policies aimed at increasing transparency in fisheries finance, as well as reducing inequities.

She will develop a transparency platform to enable diverse actors, including civil society, government officials, regional fisheries management bodies, and members of the seafood industry, access data on fisheries trade and finance.

“My work looks to identify how international finance drives overfishing in Africa, and how power dynamics undermine equitable processes for developing policies,” Professor Hicks said. “In doing so, I hope to inform more transparent processes for developing sustainable and equitable fisheries policies at national and multi-lateral scales.

“This work is particularly important because despite Africa having some of the highest levels of biodiversity, and the least intensive forms of development, ecosystems are in decline and food insecurity is on the rise. Furthermore, the processes that exacerbate these conditions, including climate change and inequitable forms of globalization, are accelerating, underscoring the need for rapid action.”

Professor Hicks is one of six experts recognised this year by the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation.

“The world’s oceans have never been under greater threat. Humankind relies on healthy oceans in countless ways,” said Susan K. Urahn, Pew’s president and CEO. “These talented scientists are working to conserve and protect marine species and habitats across the globe—from Africa’s coasts to the coral reefs of the western Pacific Ocean.”

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