Yoshitaka Ota
School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. University of Washington
3707 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, Washington

Fields of Specialisation
Academic/Research Appointments
Media Exposure
Teaching Experience
Academic Awards
Research Funding


Ph.D.   Anthropology, 2006, University College London
M.Sc.   Social Anthropology, 1998, University College London
B.Sc.   Anthropology, 1995, University College London

Fields of Specialisation (and research topics)


  • Indigenous fisheries: Global indigenous fisheries database, impacts of climate change on indigenous fisheries.
  • Climate change risk and global ocean governance: Global adaptation strategies and human security
  • Sustainable business solutions: Supply chain management in fisheries, Cooperative social responsibility of fishing industry, Fisheries improvement projects.
  • Coastal management and Research communication: Coastal ethnography, Marine Spatial Planning, Digital media story telling research.

Academic/Research Appointments

2011 – Present:     
Director (Policy) of the Nereus Program
Senior Research Fellow
Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia (Canada)

I engage with both direction and strategic planning in an international marine science program, the Nereus program. I lead research focusing on marine policy, climate change risk assessment, community-based fisheries management and market-based solutions.

2012 – Present:
Associate Research Fellow,
Liu Institute for Global issues, University of British Columbia (Canada)

I engage with interdisciplinary research on traditional ecological knowledge for regional ocean policy and cooperative social responsibility associated with maritime activities.

2009 – 2011:  
Policy Research Fellow, The department of Ocean Policy
Ocean Policy Research Foundation (Japan)

I engaged with policy analysis on both domestic (Japanese marine policies) and international development of ocean management and governance, including integrated coastal management, marine spatial planning (for community fisheries management and renewable ocean energy) and International law of the sea.

2005 – 2009:  
Research Associate, Sessional teacher, Research Assistant
Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology,
University of Kent (UK)

I engaged with various interdisciplinary fisheries management and marine conservation projects, including multi-disciplinary marine conservation of Dover strait, Community coral conservation in Aceh, Indonesia, indigenous fisheries assessment in the Peruvian Amazon, and a comparative study of the effects of ITQs (Individual Transferable Quotas) in Small-scale fisheries in UK and Australia. I also taught several courses on Social anthropology, Visual anthropology, Political anthropology and Design and management of protected areas.

Research Assistant, Department of Anthropology
University of Kent (UK)

I engaged an anthropological research on Artisanal Fishing – Prospects for Community Survival and conducted field research of fishery communities on the north coast of Kent, UK, solely from the initial contact with local stakeholders.

Undergraduate tutor, Department of Anthropology (UK)
University College London

I taught 3 anthropology courses for undergraduate students, including Material Culture and Critical social theory, Social Anthropology and Anthropology Methods.

Lecturer, Palau Community College (Palau)

While conducting my Ph.D. fieldwork in Palau, I regularly taught social science at the regional community college.

TV Documentary Producer, MediaLink/NHK Enterprise (UK)

I produced a short documentary on London antique community and family history in Germany under WW II for Japanese Public TV.


Peer-reviewed articles

Swartz, W and Ota.Y.(invited) 2016. Voluntary Certification Standards for Fisheries Sustainability: Its application and limitations for eco-certification and corporate social responsibility. Policy Matters

Cisneros, A. Weatherdon, L. Pauly, D. Ota. Y. (Submitted, 2016). A global estimate of subsistence fisheries catch by coastal indigenous peoples. PLOS

Swartz. W. Schiller, L. Sumaila, R. Ota. Y. (Submitted). Searching for market-based sustainability pathways: challenges and opportunities for Japan’s seafood eco-labels. Marine Policy.

Cheung. W. Jones, M. Lam, V. Miller. D. Ota. Y. The, L. Sumaila. R. (Submitted). Transform high seas management to build climate-resilience in marine seafood supply. Fish and Fisheries.

Weatherdon, L. Ota. Y. Jones, M. Close, D. Cheung, W. 2016. Projected scenarios for coastal First Nations’ fisheries catch potential under climate change: management challenges and opportunities. PLOS ONE.

Merrie, A. Dunn, D. Metian,M. Boustany,A. Takei,Y. Oude Elferink, A. Ota,Y. Christensen, Y. Halpin, P. Österblom, H. (2014). An ocean of surprises – Trends in human use, unexpected dynamics and governance challenges in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Global environmental Change 27:19-31.

Osterblom, H & Ota, Y. et al (2013) “Modeling social-ecological scenarios in marine systems.” BioScience (2013) 63 (9): 735-744.

Hanich, Q & Ota, Y. (2013). “Moving Beyond Rights-Based Management: A Transparent Approach to Distributing the Conservation Burden and Benefit in Tuna Fisheries.” International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 28.

Smith, R.J. Eastwood, P., Ota. Y., Rogers, S. (2009). “Developing best practice for using MARXAN to locate marine protected areas in European waters.” ICES Journal of Marine Science 66.1: 188-194.

Martin, C., Carpentier, A., Vaz, S., Coppin, F., Curet,L., Dauvin, J., Delavenne, J., Dewarumez, J., Dupuis, L., Engelhard, G., Ernande, B., Foveau, A., Garcia, C., Gardel, L., Harrop, S., Just, R., Koubbi, P., Lauria,V., Meaden, G., Morin, J., Ota, Y., Rostiaux, E., Smith, R., Spilmont, N., Verin, Y., Villanueva,C., Warembourg,C. (2009). “The Channel habitat atlas for marine resource management (CHARM): an aid for planning and decision-making in an area under strong anthropogenic pressure.” Aquatic Living Resources 22.4: 499-508.

Villanueva, C. ,Vaz, S., Ernande, B., Gardel, L., Coppin, F., Carpentier, F., Martin, C., Eastwood, P., Ota, Y., Harrop, S. (2013). The CHARM Project: Defying the Channel’s loss by improving communication on ecosystem knowledge across borders. La Mer 49(3): 201-210

Ota, Y. and Just, R. (2007). “Fleet sizes, fishing effort and the ‘hidden’ factors behind statistics: an   anthropological study of small-scale fisheries in UK.” Marine Policy 32.3: 301-308.

Ota, Y. (2005). “Fluid body in underwater – the sensory modality of fishing.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 10: 205-219.

Non-Referred Publications (Journals, Reports, Book chapters)

Ota, Y. & Cheung, W. et al. (2015). “Nereus Program Report: Predicting Future Ocean”.

Takana, T. and Ota, Y. (2014) Reviving the Seto Inland Sea, Japan: Applying the Principles of Satoumi for Marine Ranching Project in Okayama.” In Marine Productivity: Perturbations and Resilience of Socio-ecosystems. Ceccaldl, H. Hénocque, Y. Koike, Y. et al (ed). Springer.

Coady, L. Strandberg, C. and Ota.Y. (2013). The role of corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the international Shipping Sector. A Phase 2 Research Paper. Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia. Prepared for the Northern European Symposium on CSR in Shipping, Denmark.

Ota, Y. et al. (2012). “Mainstreaming satoumi in Japanese National Policy; Introduction to the case studies. Biological and Cultural Diversity in Coastal Communities; Exploring the potential of Satoumi for implementing the Ecosystem Approach in the Japanese Archpelago. CBD Technical Series No. 61. p9-14

Ota, Y. & Torii, M. (2012). “Mobilising local wisdom and scientific knowledge; recreating eelgrass beds in Okayama, Japan. Biological and Cultural Diversity in Coastal Communities; Exploring the potential of Satoumi for implementing the Ecosystem Approach in the Japanese Archpelago. CBD Technical Series No. 61. P70-75

Lingard, S., Harper, S. Ota, Y. and Zeller, D. (2011) Marine Fisheries of Palau,1950-2008: Total reconstructed catch. pp.73-84. In: Harper, S. and Zeller, D. (eds.) Fisheries catch reconstructions: Islands, Part II. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(4). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia [ISSN 1198-6727].

Ota, Y. (2007). “Knowledge as a cultural expression: new technology and changes in fishers’ understanding of the marine environments in Palau (Micronesia) and Aceh (Indonesia). Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme, UNESCO.

Ota, Y. (2006). “Socialisation of fishing knowledge: The emergence and transmission of new fishing technology and marine ecological knowledge in the Republic of Palau, Western Micronesia.” SPC Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 20: 24-32.

Ota, Y. (2005). “Fisheries on the North East Kent coast: An anthropological study.” P.P. Edward (ed.). Making Connection – The community conservation of North Kent Coast. English Nature, UK.

Ota, Y. (2003). “Becoming a Traditional Fisherman? – Reasons for selecting a fishing method: Ethnographic Approach to Underwater Spear-gun Fishing, Republic of Palau, Micronesia.” South Pacific Study 24.1. Kagoshima University Research Centre for the Pacific Islands.

Ota, Y. (2001). “Social Conditions of Palau (section number 5.1 – 5.5).” Study for the Promotion of Economic Development in Republic of Palau, JICA/The Office of Planning and Statistics, Republic of Palau.

Selected Conference Proceedings

Ota, Y. (2015). “Social Governance of Ocean under Climate Change”. Our Common Future under Climate Change, Paris, France (Session co-organizer).

Ota. Y. (2013). “Weaving Ocean Web Through Collaboration: the Nereus Program)”, AAAS Annual Meeting, Boston, USA. (Session co-organizer)

Ota, Y. (2011). “Small coasts, Large issues – Can communities protect their Coasts? 9th Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Sea Meeting, Baltimore, USA.

Ota, Y. (2011). “ Introducing Satoumi -Japanese fishers’ effort to save the contested coastal seascape” International Marine Conservation Congress, Victoria, Canada.

Ota, Y. and Just, R. (2005). “Tales of two towns – technological choices and community construction in UK fishery.” Conference at the Centre for Maritime Research (MARE), ‘People and the Sea III: New Directions in Coastal and Maritime Studies.’ Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Ota, Y. (2004). “Fishing inside the sea – an ethnography of underwater spear gun fishing in Palau, Micronesia.” Association of Social Anthropology (ASA) annual meeting. Durham, UK.

Ota, Y. (2002). “Fishing as a part of gift exchange-transaction, distribution, and the changing value of fish in Palau, Micronesia.” Ninth International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies. Edinburgh, UK.

Ota, Y. (2002). “The transformation of Palauan mortuary ceremony, Micronesia.” Eighth International Conference for the Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal. York, UK.

Ota, Y. (2002). “The transformation of Traditional Fishing Practice in Palau, Micronesia.” European Society for Oceanists (ESFO) International Conference. Vienna, Austria.

Media Exposure

January 2016

Nereus Program study published in PLOS ONE which found that First Nations communities in coastal BC, Canada, could see a decrease of up to 50% in fish catch by 2050 received considerable press in both local and international news. Coverage included:

Global News: Global warming could decrease B.C. First Nations’ fish catch by half. January 14.

KUOW News Seattle: Climate Change Could Slash Natives’ Fish Catches. January 14.

The Washington Post: Scientists say climate change is threatening the lifeblood of Canada’s native people.January 13.

The Vancouver Sun: New study predicts significant declines in B.C. native fish catches due to climate change.January 13.

CTV News: Net loss: First Nations fisheries threatened by climate change, study says. January 13.

Hakai magazine: British Columbia First Nations’ Failing Fisheries. January 13.

The Tyee: Climate Change a ‘Considerable Threat’ to Aboriginal Fisheries, Study Finds. January 13.

Times Colonist: Study predicts big drop in native fishery due to climate change. January 13.

Vancouver Observer: Climate change could cut First Nations fisheries’ catch in half. January 13.

June 2015

Press Conference in Tokyo on Nereus report, which were covered by over 20 new papers in Japan and elsewhere.


Feb 20, 2012

Live Science Chat at Association of Advanced American Science

Teaching Experience

University of British Columbia:
Supervising post-docs: Wilf Swartz, Andres Cisneros, Gabriel Reygondeau (Fisheries economics, Ocean governance and Fisheries culture).

Supervising Msc Student: Lauren Weatherdon (2012-14).

University of Kent:
Design and management of protected areas: Sessional lecturer (Year 3, B.Sc. Conservation Biology)
Introduction to Social Anthropology: Seminar leader (Year 1, B.Sc. Anthropology)
Visual Anthropology: Sessional lecturer (Year 3 and MA, Anthropology)

University of College London:
Individual Studies: Teaching assistant (Year 3, B.Sc. Anthropology)
Social Theory & Material Culture: Teaching assistant (Year 3, B.Sc.Anthropology)

Pacific (Micronesia)
Palau Community College:
Introduction to Social & Cultural Anthropology: Lecturer (Year 1, BA. Social Science)

Academic Awards

2004 British Academy/ Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Fund (With Prof. Roger Just)

1998 University College London Research Travel Fund

1999 University of London Research Fund

Research Funding


Amount Agency Title Co-Applicants Period
4,780,000(USD) Nippon Foundation Nereus Program (Phase 2) With   William Cheung (UBC) 2014 – 2017
The funding was awarded to the Nereus program research which Ota and Cheung direct. The budget was shared with 6 institutes for 3 years research activities. Ota wrote the funding proposal and presented to the Nippon Foundation and coordinated all institutes for the integrated research goals and planned activities.


4,500,000(USD) Nippon Foundation Nereus Program (phase 1) With Villy Christensen and Daniel Pauly (UBC) 2011-2014
The funding was awarded to the Nereus program research which Ota and Christensen directed. The budget was shared with 5 institutes for 3 years research activities. Ota advised both UBC and the Nippon Foundation to co-develop the program proposal and coordinated all participating institutes for the integrated research goals and planned activities.


    37,750(CAD) UBC Peter Wall Institutes for Advanced Studies International Research Roundtable With William Cheung (UBC) and Masa Matsuura, (University of Tokyo) 2014
The funding was awarded to the international workshop, Seafood in an Uncertain Future: From Scenarios to Policies, which Ota, Cheung and Matsuura organised. Ota co-wrote the funding proposal and designed the meeting structure by appropriating Joint Fact Finding methods. Ota also moderated the meeting while coordinated more than 15 attendants who were invited from diverse geographical locations and expertise.



    50,000 (USD) Nippon Foundation Cooperate Responsibility on International Shipping With Linda Coady (UBC) 2012
The funding was awarded to the research on maritime supply chain management, The role of corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the international Shipping Sector, which Ota, Coady and Strandberg conducted. Ota co-wrote the funding proposal and designed the research structure. Ota also moderated the stakeholders meeting with more than 15 attendants who were invited from diverse sectors related to BC maritime activities, including shipping companies and Vancouver port authority.



30,000 (CAD) Gordon and Betty Moor Foundation Marine Spatial Planning in British Columbia: Social License pathway With Linda Coady (UBC) 2012
The funding was awarded to the research on Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast. Ota, Coady and Swartz conducted a research on the relevance of “Social License” to the project.