Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila: World-Renowned Scholar

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Ussif Rashid Sumaila is a distinguished abusite, world-renowned scholar and erudite professor of ocean and fisheries economics at the University of British ColumbiaCanada, and the Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (formerly known as the UBC Fisheries Centre).

He specializes in bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and the economics of high and deep seas fisheries. Dr. Ussif Rashid Sumaila has been the Director of the UBC Fisheries Centre since 2008, and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia since its founding in 2002. 

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila, on a visit to the European Commission
Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila, on a visit to the European Commission

His work is highly regarded by policy makers at the highest levels, resulting in invitations to give talks at the United Nations, the White House, the U.S. Congress, the Canadian Parliament, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the World Trade Organization. His work has generated significant international interest, and has been cited in numerous publications.

Ussif Rashid Sumaila’s work on international fisheries subsidies has been influential in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations concerning subsidies and countervailing measures. Expert advice by this abusite has been sought by the White House, United Nations, Asian Development Bank, and Parliament in Canada and the United Kingdom. He has also been featured in the popular documentary End of the Line.

Birth and Education: 

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila was born in Nigeria and received his Bachelor of Science degree with honors from great Ahmadu Bello University University Zaria, Nigeria (1986), a Master of Science, Economics, (1993) and his Ph.D. (1996) from Bergen University in Norway.

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila’s Career

He joined the University of British Columbia, Canada in 1995 as a Visiting Scholar. Was Adjunct Professor (1996-2001); Research Associate (2001-02); Assistant Professor (2002-2006); Associate Professor since 2006; and now a full professor. Visiting Professor, East China Normal University, Shanghai (2010–present); University of Namibia (1999-2008); University of Tromso, Norway (1999-2001); Research Fellow (1993-95), then Senior Research Fellow, Christian Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway (1995-99). He was the WF James Professor of Pure and Applied Sciences Chair at St. Francis Xavier University (2004)

Research areas

His areas of research interest includes Economics of shared fish stocks; ecological, economic and social impacts of subsidies to the fishing sector; globalization, fish trade and marine ecosystem sustainability. He was the WF James Professor of Pure and Applied Sciences Chair at St. Francis Xavier University (2004)

Journal contributions

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila has published articles in several journals including, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Journal of Bioeconomics, Land Economics, ICES Journal of Marine Science, Environmental and Resource Economics and Ecological Economics. Sumaila’s work has generated a great deal of interest, and has been cited by, among others, the Economist, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and the Vancouver Sun.

Selected PublicationsBrooks, C.M., Larry B. Crowder1, Lisa M. Curran, Robert B. Dunbar, David G. Ainley, Klaus J. Dodds, Kristina M. Gjerde, U. Rashid Sumaila (2016). Science-based management in decline in the Southern Ocean. Science (2016).Cisneros-Montemayor, A. M., W. W. L Cheung, K. Bodtker, L. S. L. Teh, N. Steiner, M. Bailey, C. Hoover, U. R. Sumaila (2016). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.Teh, L.S.L., A. Witter, W.W.L. Cheung, U.R. Sumaila, X. Yin (2016). What is at stake? Status and threats to South China Sea marine fisheries Ambio doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0819-0.Sumaila, U. R. (2016). Socio-economic benefits of Large Marine Ecosystem valuation: The case of Benguela Large Marine Ecosystem. Environmental Development, 17, 244-248.Sumaila, U.R.’, C. Bellmann, A. Tipping (2016). Fishing for the future: An overview of challenges and opportunities. Marine Policy, 69, 173-180.Cinner, J. E., Huchery, C., MacNeil, M. A., Graham, N. A., McClanahan, T. R., Maina, J., … Sumaila, U. R. & Allison, E. H. (2016). Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs. Nature, 535(7612), 416-419.Sumaila, U.R., V. Lam, F. Le Manach, W. Swartz and D. Pauly (2016). Global fisheries subsidies: an updated estimate. Marine Policy, 69, 189-193.Miller, D. D., Sumaila, U. R., Copeland, D., Zeller, D., Soyer, B., Nikaki, T., … & Pauly, D. (2016). Cutting a lifeline to maritime crime: marine insurance and IUU fishing. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. doi:10.1002/fee.1293.Bailey M., Favaro B., Otto S., Charles A., Devillers R., Metaxas A., Tyedmers P., Ban N., Mason T., Hoover C., Duck T.J., Fanning L., Milley C., Cisneros-Montemayor A.M., Pauly D., Cheung W.W., Cullis-Suzuki S., Teh L., and Sumaila U.R. (2016). The imperative of realigning ocean policy with ocean science. Marine Policy, 63: 53-60.Gattuso, J.-P., Magnan, A., Billé, R., Cheung, W. W. L., Howes, E. L., Joos, F., Allemand, D.,Bopp, L., Cooley, S., Eakin, C.M., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Kelly, R.P. Sumaila, U.R. et al. (2015). Contrasting futures for ocean and society from different CO2 emissions scenarios. Science 349 (6243).Cheung, W.W.L. and Sumaila, U.R. (2015). Economic incentives and overfishing: a bioeconomic vulnerability index. Mar Ecol Prog Ser, 530: 223–232.Gordon R. Munro and Sumaila, U. R. (2015). On the Contributions of Colin Clark to Fisheries Economics. Environmental and Resource Economics.Teh, L.S.L and Sumaila, U.R. (2015). Global analysis of temporal trends in shared fisheries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 530: 243–254.Sumaila, U.R., Hotte, N., Galli, A., Lam, V.W.Y., Cisneros-Montemayor, A.M. and Wackernagel, M. (2015). Eco2: A simple index of economic-ecological deficits. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 530: 271–279.Sumaila, U.R, Vicky W.Y. Lam, Dana D. Miller, Louise Teh, Reg A. Watson, Dirk Zeller, William W.L. Cheung, Isabelle M. Côté, Alex D. Rogers, Callum Roberts, Enric Sala, Daniel Pauly (2015). Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing. Scientific Reports.Ekeland, I., Karp, L. and Sumaila, U.R. (2015). Equilibrium resource management with altruistic overlapping generations. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 70, 1-16.Díaz, S., Demissew, S., Carabias, J., Joly, C., Lonsdale, M., Ash, N., Sumaila, U.R. … & Driver, A. (2015). The IPBES Conceptual Framework—connecting nature and people. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 1-16.Tittensor, D.P., Walpole, M., Hill, S.L.L., Sumaila U.R., Teh, L.S.L et al. (2014). A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets. Science 346(6206), 241-244.Sumaila, U. R., and Bawumia, M. (2014). Fisheries, ecosystem justice and piracy: A case study of Somalia. Fisheries Research, 157, 154-163.Sumaila, U.R., Dyck, A., and Baske, A. (2014). Subsidies to tuna fisheries in the Western Pacific Ocean. Marine Policy 43: 288-294.Teh, L.S.L., Teh, L.C.L., and Sumaila, U.R. (2014). Time preference of small-scale fishers in open access and traditionally managed reef fisheries. Marine Policy 44: 222-231.Teh, L.S.L., Teh, L.C.L., and Sumaila, U.R. (2013). A global estimate of the number of coral reef fishers. PLOS ONE 8(6), e65397.Sumaila, U.R. (2013). How to make progress in disciplining overfishing subsidies. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 70 (2), 251-258.Teh, L.S.L., Teh, L.C.L., Sumaila, U.R., and Cheung, W.W.L. (2013). Time Discounting and the Overexploitation of Coral Reefs. Environmental and Resource Economics 1-24.Swartz, W., Sumaila, U.R., and Watson, R. (2012). Global Ex-Vessel Fish Price Database revisited: a new approach for estimating ‘missing’ prices. Environmental and Resource Economics, DOI: 10.1007/s10640-012-9611-1.Halpern, B.S., Longo, C., Hardy, D., McLeod, K.L., Samhouri, J.F., Katona, S.K., Kleisner, K., Lester, S.E., O’Leary, J., Ranelletti, M., Rosenberg, A.A., Scarborough, C., Selig, E.R., Best, B.D., Brumbaugh, D.R., Chapin, F.S., Crowder, L.B., Daly, K.L., Doney, S.C., Elfes, C., Fogarty, M.J., Gaines, S.D., Jacobsen, K.I., Karrer, L.B., Leslie, H.M., Neeley, E., Pauly, D., Polasky, S., Ris, B., St. Martin, K., Stone, G.S., Sumaila, U.R., and Zeller, D. (2012). An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean. Nature, 488: 615-620.Sumaila, U.R., Cheung, W.W.L., Dyck, A., Gueye, K., Huang, L., Lam, V.W.Y., Pauly, D., Srinivasan, T., Swartz, W., Pauly, D., and Zeller, D. (2012). Benefits of rebuilding global marine fisheries outweigh costs. PLoS ONE 7(7), e40542, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040542.Sumaila, U.R. (2012). Seas, Oceans and Fisheries: A Challenge for Good Governance. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 101(2), 157-166.Sumaila, U.R. (2012). Overfishing: Call to split fisheries at home and abroad. Nature 481, DOI:10.1038/481265c.Sumaila, U.R. and Huang, L. (2012). Managing Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Policy, 36, 502–511.Sumaila, U.R., Cisneros-Montemayor, A.M., Dyck, A., Huang, L., Cheung, W., Jacquet, J., Kleisner, K., Lam, V., McCrea-Strub, A., Swartz, W., Watson, R., Zeller, D. & Pauly, D. (2012). Impact of the Deepwater Horizon well blowout on the Economics of U.S. Gulf fisheries. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 69, 499-510, DOI: 10.1139/f2011-171.Collette, B.B., Sumaila, U.R., and others (2011). High Value and Long Life—Double Jeopardy for Tunas and Billfishes. Science, 333, 291-292.

Selected Books and book contributions by Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila

EditedSumaila, U.R. (2013). Game Theory and Fisheries: Essays on the Tragedy of Free for All Fishing. Routledge, London, UK, p. 178.Noone, K.J., Sumaila, U.R., and Diaz, R.J. (eds.) (2013). Managing Ocean Environments in a Changing Climate: Sustainability and Economic Perspectives. Elsevier, London, UK, p. 359.Bjørndal, T., Gordon, D.V., Arnason, R., and Sumaila, U.R. (eds.) (2006). Advances in Fisheries Economics: Papers in Honour of Professor Gordon Munro, Blackwell, Oxford, p. 308.Sumaila, U.R., Boyer, D., Skog, M., and Steinshamm, S.I. (eds.) (2004). Namibia’s fisheries: Ecological, economic and social aspects. Eburon, Netherlands, p. 363.Kowero, G., Campbell, B.M., and Sumaila, U.R. (eds.) (2003). Policies and governance structures in woodlands of Southern Africa. CIFOR Press, Indonesia, p. 211.
Special Journal IssuesSumaila, U. R. and K. I. Stergiou (2015). Economics of marine conservation. Mar Ecol Prog Ser Vol. 530:177-279.Sumaila, U.R. (2015). On the Contributions of Colin Clark to Fisheries Economics Environmental and Resource Economics, May 2015, Volume 61, Issue 1. (editor of Special Issue).Sumaila, U.R., Arnason, R., and Lange, G.-M. (eds.) (2010). Global Fisheries Economics, Journal of Bioeconomics, 12, 179-268.Chuenpagdee, R. and Sumaila, U.R. (eds) (2010). Fisheries Governance. Fish and Fisheries, 11, 233-314.Sumaila, U.R., Adinar, A., and Albiac, J. (eds.) (2009). Game theoretic applications to environmental and natural resource problems. Environment and Development Economics, 14, 1-137.Sumaila, U.R., Charles, T., and Sylvia, G. (eds.) (2007). Topical Problems in Fisheries Economics: An Introduction. Marine Resource Economics.Sumaila, U.R., Munro, G., and Sutinen, J. (eds.) (2007). Recent Developments in Fisheries Economics. Special Issue of Land Economics, 83, 1-107.Sumaila, U.R. and Charles, A. (eds.) (2002a). Economics of protected marine areas. Special Issue of Natural Resource Modeling, 15 (3 ), 261-386.Sumaila, U.R. and Charles, A. (eds.) (2002b). Economics of protected marine areas. Special Issue of Natural Resource Modeling, 15 (4), 387-505. Climate, oceans and the law of special and general adaptationAlder, J. and Sumaila, U. R. (eds.) (2002). Social and economic aspects of protected marine areas implementation. Special Issue of Coastal Management, 30(2), 121-191.


Including: International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade; Natural Resource Modeling Association; Ocean Management Research Network.

Current projects

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila is the Scientific Director for Ocean Canada. Lead author, Conditions Working Group of the Millennium Assessment Research Group WorldFish Centre, Penang, Malaysia. Lead editor, Fisheries chapter of the United Nations Green Economy Report.

Awards and Honours

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila has received several honors and awards, including the following:

Prof. Ussif Rashid Sumaila: World-Renowned Scholar 2
professor Ussif Rashid Sumaila received a Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science at a gala ceremony held on May 11, 2017, in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Sant Ocean Hall.
  • 2017 Volvo Environment Prize
  • 2017 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science
  • 2016: Named as a Hokkaido University Ambassador (2016-2019)
  • 2016: Won UBC’s Killam Faculty Research Prize for “outstanding research and scholarly contributions”
  • 2013 Excellence in Public Outreach Award from the American Fisheries Society
  • 2013: Received the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies International Roundtable Award
  • 2012: Named Johan Hjort Chair by the Nordic Centre for Research on Marine Ecosystems and Resources under Climate Change (NorMER).
  • 2009: Named Leopold Leadership Fellow
  • 2008: Named Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation
  • 2007: Named Senior Early Career Scholar by UBC’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
  • 2007: Project member of the Coasts Under Stress project, which won the 2007 Craigdarroch Award for Societal Contribution from the University of Victoria
  • 2006: one of the authors of the “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment”, which won the Zayed International Prize for the Environment
  • 2004: Named Dr. W.F. James Chair of Studies in the Pure and Applied Sciences by St. Francis Xavier University


His Work has been cited in The EconomistThe Boston GlobeThe International Herald TribuneMaine Sunday TelegramFinancial TimesGlobe and MailVoice of America;, CBC News; and the Vancouver Sun.

Favourite book 

Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter written by Nancy Baron. This book is a well-written manual on communicating science effectively. It challenges scientists to find and use their own voice in public debates on issues relevant to their research.

Favourite quote “Just keep pushing.”

What inspires Him 

The fact that anything can happen – like Barack Obama winning the Presidency of the United States.

Why do you do what you do?

Because preserving our natural environment is central to our survival on earth. More specifically, during the filming of End of the Line, a documentary on global fisheries, I witnessed a shrimp trawler working the waters of Senegal and I saw the massive amounts of otherwise delicious fish thrown overboard as discards to make room for the more valuable shrimp catch – a very disheartening experience!

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