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Annette   Breckwoldt

Postdoctoral Fellow
Social Sciences, Social-Ecological Systems Analysis
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) (Germany)
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I speak in the following language(s): English, German, French

I am a marine biologist by training and studied at the University of Bremen (Germany), the University of Liverpool (UK) and the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (USA). After my studies I worked for UNESCO at its Headquarters in Paris in the joint sections Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) and Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS). In 2007, I finished my PhD in collaboration with both Newcastle University (UK) and The University of the South Pacific (USP, Fiji) on interdisciplinary aspects of community-based management of inshore Fijian fishing grounds, with local supervision by Dr. Joeli Veitayaki. In the following years, I have helped my other former supervisor Dr. Nicholas Polunin in organizing an international conference on Interdisciplinary Progress in Environmental Science and Management, which was held in Newcastle (UK) in 2011. I am a part-time lecturer at the University of Bremen (Germany) at the faculties of Geography and Biology and spend the other part of my time as postdoctoral scientist at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) in Bremen.
Environmental sciences
Biological sciences
Member of
Asia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA)
European Society for Oceanists (ESfO)
Geographic administrative areas
Geographic places
Fiji Islands
Hawai'i (US State)
  • PhD Research (2003 to 2007)
    An Interdisciplinary Appraisal of Community-based Marine Resource Management of a Traditional Fijian Fishing Ground (qoliqoli) — Newcastle University
    There have been efforts to comprehensively highlight successes and failures of community-based marine resource management (CBMRM), but there has been little rigorous assessment of what the conditions of long-term success are. Fiji’s customary fishing-rights areas (qoliqoli) constitute a form of CBMRM that is supported by indigenous owners, central government, and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
    This study by a marine biologist takes a critical look at CBMRM initiatives, perceptions of these by the primary resource users, the forces driving the evolution of initiatives and their impact on marine resource use. After a review of the available literature on the concepts of CBMRM and its specificity in the South Pacific setting, the usefulness of basic social scientific methods in a CBMRM context is assessed. Fishing logbooks, semi-directed interviews, focus groups, life history interviews and participant and non-participant observation are developed and tested for a specific community setting on Gau Island, Fiji (Chapter 2). This mixed-method approach, where the researcher crosses the boundaries from marine biology to the social sciences, proves valuable as each research method discloses different information. For example, fishing logbooks as a fisheries management tool (Chapter 3) could be one way to improve local biological surveying and monitoring in data quality, volume and sampling frequency, while social scientific methods such as participant and non-participant observation (used in Chapters 4-6) help complement data from logbooks and interviews. Fishing logbooks (Chapter 3) are evaluated for an appreciation of fishing activity - including fishing methods, frequency, catch rates, species richness - and generate core information on local marine resource use and status. Another objective is to understand the roles of Gau villagers in managing the local small-scale fishery (Chapter 4), including the CBMRM measures in place today, factors which initiated them and communities’ perceptions of the measures. The findings emphasize the importance of social interaction and information exchange between official agents and local communities for CBMRM. The studied communities’ perceptions of their qoliqoli, in particular of changes in fish size and quantity, reef condition and fishing methods, are investigated (Chapter 5). These perceptions are the basis for local people’s actions - not only in terms of resource and environmental management but also for the development of governance systems that will be supported by those targeted. Investigations on CBMRM efforts and of changes over time in the complex local social and natural environment on Gau (Chapter 6) include issues such as traditional authority and community leadership, livelihood, development and changes in the village environment. These factors are challenges to people’s thinking and acting, are of direct importance to the management of their marine resources and hence their way of living, are likely to increase in importance and will thus have to be paid careful attention to.
    In further CBMRM and decentralisation efforts, one way of improving information uptake and understanding could be through a balanced integration of natural and social sciences, in theory and methodology, for example by applying social science methods to collect data needed in natural science approaches. The author of this thesis contributed to addressing this scientific imbalance in CBMRM by developing skills in social science techniques to demonstrate why the integration of multiple disciplines is important to achieving the longer term aims of integrated CBMRM. The study highlights the increasing importance of communities’ perceptions of management measures and their usefulness for Fiji’s complex decentralized multi-stakeholder CBMRM system. The communities need technical and informative assistance for management decisions and implementation of measures, targeted to the specific local concerns, and their integration in the CBMRM process. A holistic approach to CBMRM in Fiji - based on an increased focus on core individuals (e.g., community leaders), their respective influence, knowledge and character - should help achieve local empowerment in terms of ecological understanding and enforcement of measures, and strengthen present local management regimes.
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