Suffering Covid-19 and Climate Change: Can Malaysia’s Fishermen, Fisheries and Seafood Survive?


About the Webinar

Malaysian marine fisheries produce contributes 12.5 percent of the agricultural sector. Marine fish catch in 2018 have amounted to 1.477 million tonnes. Of this catch, 30 percent comes from artisanal nearshore fishermen’ fish landings (which makes up 42 percent of all fishermen). While many of these generational fishers are the product of a long maritime heritage, unparalleled marine ecological knowledge and skilled net-making craftsmen, their future is uncertain. Covid-19 has darkened almost everyone’s economic well-being and disrupted a myriad food distribution chains. Rural fishermen have borne the brunt of this pandemic-induced lockdown. While they might be able to harvest seafood to survive, they suffer a lack of cash liquidity for other needs. While coastal development has been put on hold due to the global economic slowdown, climate change has escalated and exacerbated the situation. Winds and tide patterns have changed dramatically; weather events are now far more extreme. Target species no longer behave as they have for generations; and bringing home a reasonable catch is no longer guaranteed.

Trawled seafood (70 percent of current fish landings in Malaysia) can inflict great damage to marine habitats. Artisanal fisheries have the potential to strike a balance between long-term livelihoods and sustainable resource extraction. This seminar will discuss the status of Malaysia’s nearshore fishermen, drawing on a more-than-a-decade-long ethnographic study of a fishing community in the western Tebrau Strait. This will also be mapped onto other similar communities across Peninsular Malaysia. Their struggle to earn a sustainable, feasible income, the challenges that need to be overcome, and the policies that need to evolve to include and enable them to survive, will also be examined.

About the Speaker

Dr Serina Rahman is a Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. She examines issues related to (un)sustainable development, rural politics and political ecology. Trained as a conservation scientist, her practice is in community empowerment, citizen science and environmental education for coastal habitat conservation and marine artisanal fisheries resources management. Dr Serina is also Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, NUS, where she teaches Environmental Politics. She is an Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Award Winner for Environmental Protection (2014) and has numerous academic, institutional and other publications under her various fields of research.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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If you have questions for the speaker, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speaker during the Q&A session.


Sep 08 2021


10:00 am - 11:00 am