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Foale, Simon

Simon Foale is a biologist who did his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1998 based on field research on fisheries and local knowledge at Nggela in the Central Solomons. After that he worked for several years on conservation and development projects for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Western Province. Later he has worked with the environmental and social impact of the huge gold mine at Lihir, Papua New Guinea. Simon Foale is interested in rural development and fisheries management, and combines anthropology and marine biology to look at the connections between local knowlede and Western science.

James Cook University, Australia (marine science)
Fisheries, biology, anthropology


Current affiliation, academic qualifications and contact details.

Current Affiliation:
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Academic Qualifications:
Ph.D.: The University of Melbourne, Department of Zoology, 1998.
B.Sc. (Hons): University of Queensland, 1984.

Contact Details:
Dr. Simon Foale
Principal Research Fellow
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Building DB44
James Cook University
Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
Ph:  + 61 7 4781 6785
Fax: + 61 7 4781 6722
Email: simon.foale@jcu.edu.au
Website: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/research/simonfoale.html


I am a biologist who has become interested in the social dimensions of fishery management. I have conducted most of my research in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea over the past 15 years. I have used social anthropology as a discipline that can shed light on the complex challenges of managing fisheries and conserving marine biodiversity in nearshore environments in this region. I believe that natural resource management and biodiversity conservation cannot be divorced from the broader task of sustainable and equitable economic development, and I think that agencies and individuals who want to assist with the former challenges are morally obliged to also engage with the latter. My Ph.D. research was conducted in the Nggela group of islands in the Central Province of Solomon Islands, on the role of customary marine tenure and local knowledge in fishery management. I have worked on the social impact of mining at Lihir in Papua New Guinea, as well as having worked for two years on an integrated conservation and development project for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Western Province of Solomon Islands. I have also worked on coastal zone management (including swidden agriculture and commodity fisheries) on small, densely populated islands in Papua New Guinea. My experience on each of these diverse projects has been that aspirations for economic development in the region are routinely prioritized over concerns for the environment at all levels of society from community to National Government.

The geographic scope of my experience obviously goes well beyond Western Province, but I think much of it is still relevant to the resource management and development challenges of this part of the Solomon Islands. I am particularly interested in near-shore fisheries management and governance, and I think that research in this field needs to move well beyond the traditional community-based focus. There are many fishery management tools available, including some important instruments which can be used by provincial and national governments, particularly if sufficient assistance is made available.

Further ideas and reflections

If gold mining becomes a serious concern on Vangunu Island, I can contribute from my experiences monitoring the social impact of gold mining in PNG. Otherwise my interests will be primarily concerned with near-shore fishery management and governance, including both subsistence and commodity fisheries. I’ll do my best to extract any relevant and useful material from my WWF files (1999 – 2001).

Key publications/reports/materials

Foale, S. J. 2008. Appraising the resilience of trochus and other nearshore artisanal fisheries in the Western Pacific. SPC Trochus Information Bulletin (14) (In Press)
Foale, S. J. 2008. Conserving Melanesia’s Coral Reef Heritage in the Face of Climate Change. Historic Environment 21(1): 30-36
Macintyre, M. A. and S. J. Foale 2007. Land and Marine Tenure, Ownership and New Forms of Entitlement on Lihir: Changing notions of property in the context of a goldmining project. Human Organization 66 (1): 49-59.
Sabetian, A. and S. J. Foale 2006. Evolution of the Artisanal fisher; case-studies from Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. SPC Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 20: 3-10. http://www.spc.int/coastfish/News/Trad/20/Trad20_3_Sabetian.pdf
Foale, S. J. 2006. The intersection of scientific and indigenous ecological knowledge in coastal Melanesia: implications for contemporary marine resource management. International Social Science Journal 58: 129-137.
Foale, S. J. 2006. Is coral reef conservation possible without science education in Melanesia? Is science education possible without development? Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium, Okinawa. Session 4: 1274-1278.
Foale, S. J. and M. A. Macintyre 2005. Green Fantasies: Photographic representations of biodiversity and ecotourism in the Western Pacific. Journal of Political Ecology 12: 1-22. http://jpe.library.arizona.edu/volume_12/FoaleMacintyre2005.pdf
Foale, S. J. and B. Manele 2004. Social and political barriers to the use of Marine Protected Areas for conservation and fishery management in Melanesia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 45 (3): 373-386.
Macintyre, M. A. and S. J. Foale 2004. Politicised Ecology: Local Responses to Mining in Papua New Guinea. Oceania 74: 231-251.
Macintyre, M. A. and S. J. Foale 2004. ‘Global Imperatives and Local Desires: Competing Economic and Environmental Interests in Melanesian Communities’. In V. Lockwood (ed), Globalization and Culture Change in the Pacific Islands.  New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, pp. 149-165.
Foale, S. 2001. 'Where's our development?' Landowner aspirations and environmentalist agendas in Western Solomon Islands, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 2(2): 44-67.
Foale, S. J. and M. A. Macintyre 2000. Dynamic and flexible aspects of property tenure at West Nggela, Solomon Islands: implications for marine resource management, Oceania 71: 30-45.
Foale, S. J. 1999. Traditional ecological knowledge and biology of the land crab, Cardisoma hirtipes (Decapoda: Gecarcinidae), at West Nggela, Solomon Islands, Pacific Science 53 (1): 37-49.
Foale, S. 1998. What's in a name? An analysis of the West Nggela (Solomon Islands) fish taxonomy, SPC Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 9: 2-19.
Foale, S. J. 1998. Assessment and management of the trochus fishery at West Nggela, Solomon Islands: an interdisciplinary approach, Ocean and Coastal Management 40: 187-205.
Foale, S. J. and R. W. Day 1997. Stock assessment of trochus (Trochus niloticus) fisheries at West Nggela, Solomon Islands, with notes on management, Fisheries Research 33: 1-16.

Foale () Coral reef conservation and science education ().pdf

Foale (2001) Where’s our development (article).pdf

Foale and Manele (2004) Social and political barriers and Marine Protected Areas (article).pdf

Foale and Macintyre (2005) Photographic representations of biodiversity and ecotourism (article).pdf

Macintyre and Foale (2004) Global imperatives and local desires competing economic and environmental interests in Melanesian communities (article).pdf

Macintyre and Foale (2007) Land and marine tenure, ownership and new forms of entitlement on Lihir (article).pdf

Foale (1998) Assessment and management of the Trochus industry in West Nggela (article).pdf

Sabetian and Foale (2006) Evolution of the artisanal fisher (article).pdf

Western Solomons
Updated 12 January, 2011