Rashid Sumaila

University Killam Professor
Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
Fisheries Economics Research Unit
OceanCanada Partnership

Canada Research Chair (Tier I, Interdisciplinary Ocean and Fisheries Economics)

Degrees: B.Sc. Quantity Surveying
M.Sc. Economics
Ph.D. Economics

Contact Information

Email: r.sumaila@oceans.ubc.ca
Office phone: 604-822-0224
Publications: view
Website: Fisheries Economics Research Unit, OceanCanada Partnership

Twitter: @DrRashidSumaila; @FisheryEconomic; @OceanCanada


Rashid Sumaila is a Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Interdisciplinary Ocean and Fisheries Economics at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. His research focuses on bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, marine protected areas, illegal fishing, climate change, marine plastic pollution, and oil spills. Sumaila has experience working in fisheries and natural resource projects in Norway, Canada and the North Atlantic region, Namibia and the Southern African region, Ghana and the West African region and Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Dr. Sumaila received his Ph.D. (Economics) from the University of Bergen and his B.Sc. (Quantity Surveying) from the Ahmadu Bello University. Sumaila is widely published and cited. He won the 2017 Volvo Environment Prize and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2019. His interest in the environment started early in life when his grandfather used to say people should “walk as if the ground feels pain” – this is sophisticated environmentalism! His specific interest in ocean and fisheries was picked in Norway. Sumaila enjoys exploring novel ideas and mentoring future thinkers. He loves waking up each day thinking of how best to contribute to ensuring that we bequeath a healthy ocean to our children and grandchildren so they too can have the option to do the same.

Research Interests

Sumaila’s research involve: (i) applying game theory to fisheries, to, for example, identify whether or not developing countries should give access to their fisheries resources to foreign fleets; (ii) rethinking the nature of the discount rates applied to natural resource projects, and formulating a highly original alternative (“intergeneration discount rates”); (iii) understanding the nature, amounts and effects of government subsidies on global fisheries; (iv) documenting the employment in fisheries and competing uses of living marine resources; and, (v) estimating the multiple benefits that would be obtained globally by rebuilding fish stocks and setting up marine reserves, including the concept of the ‘High Seas’ as a large marine reserve or a ‘fish bank’ for the world.

Awards and Honours

  • 2020 Named Distinguished International Professor by the National University of Malaysia
  • 2019 Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
  • 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


  • Economic Foundations of Environmental Policies (Graduate, 2018-19, UBC);
  • Resource Economics I (Graduate, 2016-19, UBC);
  • Fisheries Economics and Management (Graduate, 2011-2016, UBC);
  • Fisheries Economics and Management (Graduate, 2008-2013, UBC);
  • Topics in Integrated Sciences (Undergraduate, 2008-2009, UBC);
  • Current Topics in Fisheries (Undergraduate, 2006, 2009-2011, UBC);
  • Environmental Economics (Undergraduate, 2003-2008, UBC);
  • Land and Forestry Economics (Graduate, 2002, UBC);
  • Critical Issues in Fisheries (Graduate, 2002, UBC);
  • Fisheries Economics (Graduate, 2002, UBC);
  • Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (Graduate, 1999-2001, University of Tromsø);
  • Natural Resource Economics (Undergraduate, 1999-present, University of Namibia);
  • Applied Game Theory (Graduate, 2000, UBC).

Selected Publications

Sumaila, U. R., Zeller, D., Hood, L., Palomares, M. L. D., Li, Y., & Pauly, D. (2020). Illicit trade in marine fish catch and its effects on ecosystems and people worldwide. Science Advances, 6(9), eaaz3801.

Cinner, Joshua E., Jessica Zamborain-Mason, Georgina G. Gurney, Nicholas AJ Graham, M. Aaron MacNeil, Andrew S. Hoey, Camilo Mora, U.R Sumaila and others (2020). Meeting fisheries, ecosystem function, and biodiversity goals in a human-dominated world. Science 368, no. 6488 (2020): 307-311.

Sumaila, U.R., Tai, T.C., Lam, V.W.Y., Cheung, W.W.L., Bailey, M., Cisneros-Montemayor, A.M., Chen, O.L., Gulati, S.S. (2019). Benefits of the Paris Agreement to ocean life, economies, and people. Science Advances, 5(2), eaau3855.

Sumaila, U. R., Ebrahim, N., Schuhbauer, A., Skerritt, D., Li, Y., Kim, H. et al. (2019). Updated estimates and analysis of global fisheries subsidies. Marine Policy, 109, 103695.

Sumaila, U.R. (2019). A carding system as an approach to increasing the economic risk of engaging in IUU fishing? Frontiers in Marine Science, 6:34. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00034.

Sumaila, U. R., Villasante, S., & Le Manach, F. (2019). Fisheries subsidies wreck ecosystems, don’t bring them back. Nature, 571, 36-36.

Abbott, J.K., Sumaila, U.R. (2019). Reducing marine plastic pollution: policy insights from economics. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. rez007, https://doi.org/10.1093/reep/rez007.

Steiner NS, Cheung WWL, Cisneros-Montemayor AM, Drost H, Hayashida H, Hoover C, Lam J, Sou T, Sumaila UR, Suprenand P, Tai T, VanderZwaag D. 2019. Impacts of the changing ocean-sea ice system on the key forage fish Arctic cod (Boreogadus Saida) and subsistence fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic: evaluating linked climate, ecosystem and economic (CEE) models. Frontiers in Marine Science. 6:179.

Sumaila UR, Cheung WWL. 2015. Boom or bust: the future of fish in the South China Sea. ADM Capital Foundation. Hong Kong: OceanAsia.

Sumaila, U.R. (2018). Illicit Trade in the Marine Resources of West Africa. Ghana Journal of Economics, 6, 108-116.

Sumaila, U.R. (2018). Comparative valuation of fisheries in Asian Large Marine Ecosystems with emphasis on the East China Sea and South China Sea LMEs. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2018.12.008.

Sumaila, U. R. et al. (2017). Investments to reverse biodiversity loss are economically beneficial. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 748.

Sumaila UR, Cheung WWL, Cury PM, Tai T. 2017. Climate change, marine ecosystems and global fisheries. In: Ninan KN, Inoue M, editors. Building a climate resilient economy and society: challenges and opportunities. Cheltenham (UK): Edward Elgar.

Sumaila, U.R., Cisneros-Montemayor, A.M., Dyck, A., Huang, L., Cheung, W.W.L., Jacquet, J., Kleisner, K., Lam, V.W.Y., McCrea-Strub, A., Swartz, W., Watson, R., Zeller, D., and 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.

Sumaila, U.R. and Huang, L. (2012). Managing Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Policy, 36: 502–511.

Collette, B.B., U.R. Sumaila and others (2011). High Value and Long Life—Double Jeopardy for Tunas and Billfishes. Science, 333: 291-292.

Pereira, H. M., Leadley, P.W., Sumaila, U.R., and others (2010). Scenarios for Global Biodiversity in the 21st Century. Science, 330(6010): 1496-1501.

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.

Swartz, W., Sumaila, U.R., and Watson, R. (2012). Global Ex-Vessel Fish Price Database revisited: a new approach for estimating ‘missing’ prices. Journal of Environmental and Resource Economics, DOI: 10.1007/s10640-012-9611-1.

Srinivasan, T., Watson, R., Sumaila, U.R. (2012). Global Fisheries Losses at the Exclusive Economic Zone Level, 1950 to Present. Marine Policy, 36, 544-549.

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.

Ishimura, G., Herrick, S. and Sumaila, U.R. (2012). Fishing games under climate variability: transboundary management of Pacific sardine in the California Current System. Environmental Economics and Policy, DOI: 10.1007/s10018-012-0048-0.

Sumaila U.R., Cheung W.W.L., Lam, V.W.Y., Pauly, D., Herrick S (2011). Climate change impacts on the biophysics and economics of world fisheries. Nature Climate Change, 1: 449-456.

Lam, V.W.Y., Sumaila, U.R., Dyck, A., Pauly, D., and Watson, R. (2011). Construction and first applications of a global cost of fishing database. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68(9): 1996-2004.

Sumaila, U.R., Khan, A., Dyck, A., Watson, R., Munro, G., Tyedmers, P., and Pauly, D. (2010). A bottom up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies. Journal of Bioeconomics, 12: 201–225.

Sumaila, U.R. (2010). A cautionary note on individual transferable quotas. Ecology and Society, 15(3): 36.

Dyck, A. and Sumaila, U.R. (2010) Economic impact of ocean fish populations in the global fishery. Journal of Bioeconomics, 12: 227–243.