Program Co-Director & Nippon Foundation Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Ota received his Ph.D. in anthropology from University College London in 2006. As a social anthropologist, he specializes in fishing practices, including the economics, social organization and lifestyles attached to this activity. For 18 months, he lived in Palau, Micronesia, for his Ph.D., learning fishing as an apprentice of a famous spear-fisherman in town. Through the fieldwork, he has become greatly interested in socio-cultural aspect of fisheries, particularly how social changes reflect upon the value and materiality of fish and how they create a new social dynamic in the human-ecosystem relationship. While conducting post-doctoral research in the UK, Dr Ota worked at the University of Kent (Department of Anthropology and Durrel Institute of Conservation and Ecology) for an ethnographic project on English small-scale fisheries and the CHARM Project, an interdisciplinary fisheries management research initiative developed for the Eastern English Channel. He has worked on field-based research projects in various locations—Palau (Micronesia, 2000-01, for his Ph.D. Thesis), the English Channel (UK and France, 2003-2009 for ESRC Funded project on European small-scale fisheries), Ache (Indonesia, 2007, for the post-tsunami assessment of local fisheries), Victoria (Australia, 2007, for BA-funded research)—all of which have developed his interest in theoretical and methodological perspectives on marine, environmental and socio-economical issues affecting coastal communities. In 2008, he returned to Japan to join a policy think-tank in Tokyo—the Ocean Policy Research Foundation — which specializes in research and policy suggestions for both international and domestic marine management and ocean governance. At the foundation, Dr Ota worked on issues concerning community-based management, coastal habitat reconstruction (Sato-Umi) and Marine Spatial Planning. In 2011, Dr Ota joined UBC’s Fisheries Centre as the Co-Director of the NF-UBC Nereus program, a partnership between the Nippon Foundation and UBC dedicated to developing an interdisciplinary approach towards the promotion of sustainable fisheries. In this role, he is responsible for coordinating an international and interdisciplinary network and for conducting research on the human dimensions of issues related to global fisheries.
Dr Ota is also passionate about supporting the post-tsunami relief for the northern Japanese fisheries communities. He conducted his first research on fisheries communities affected by the disaster in summer 2011.