It’s clear we need to formulate radically new and sustainable ways of fishing and farming the oceans. Depleted natural resources, hungry people and geo-social disparities in access to good and sustainable food sources increasingly contribute to political problems around the world. Unstable weather patterns now routinely cause agricultural devastation.

Australia is, of course, the largest island in the world, and controls 14.7 million square kilometres of marine resources. Yet our understanding of the cultures of fishing is rudimentary.

The Sustainable Fish Lab brings together different models of sustainability. How can we reconcile scientific models of eco-sustainability with the cultures of local fishing communities and the budget-defined regimes of commodified ‘taste’ and ‘choice’?

This project undertakes an ambitious, multi-level analysis designed to bring together for the first time radically competing and often antithetical models and practices of ‘fish’ as they move from sea to table, laboratory to policy, farm to food.

Chief Investigator: Prof. Elspeth Probyn

Project team

Image of Rorotoko interview Elspeth Probyn

Elspeth Probyn

Chief Investigator

Elspeth Probyn (Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia) is Professor of Gender & Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her work has helped to establish several new areas of scholarship – from embodied research methods to cultural studies of food. Her current research analyses the sustainability of the production and consumption of fish, results of which are published in a new book, Eating the Ocean (Duke University Press, 2016).
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Kate Johnston

Research Associate

Kate has a PhD with the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her thesis, titled Sustaining More Than Fish: tradition and transformation in environmental conflicts, analysed the discursive and material relationship between culture and sustainability through the case study of tuna and la tonnara - a tuna trap fishery used for many centuries in Southern Italy.

Daren Shi-chi Leung

Research Assistant (Sydney Fish Markets)

Daren is a PhD student in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. His PhD project comprises a comparative case study of youth food communities between Sydney, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Daren is currently the research assistant for the Sustainable Fish Lab. Besides academic works, Leung is also an amateur photographer, and has long been active in social movements, environmentalist groups and food communities.
Image of Nancy Lee

Nancy Lee

Research Assistant

Nancy has a PhD from the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Nancy's thesis examined the role of celebrity culture in changing chefs' labour. She is interested in how food media (and social media) shapes our understanding of what, how, and where we eat, and who cooks and/or grows our food. Nancy recently co-presented at MAD 5 symposium on the role of food criticism in creating cultural value. She currently consults with commercial and government clients for a Sydney research agency.