Jacqui is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Australia Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and WorldFish. Her research examines issues of justice and climate change resilience in small-scale fisheries and coastal communities. She seeks to understand how coastal resources and livelihoods can be equitably sustained in the face of change. Jacqui's research is interdisciplinary, drawing on human geography and sociology, and often in collaboration with natural scientists. 

Jacqui's current research builds on previous work on how aspects of identity, perceptions of justice and morality shape and constrain environmental governance and development. These strands of work form the basis for empirical projects seeking to understand both leverage points and barriers to resilience in coastal communities, both to climate change and to the impacts of Covid-19 on wellbeing, livelihoods and food security in coastal communities in PNG and Kenya.

Previously, Jacqui studied sociology at the Australian National University (2012), and an MPhil in Environment, Society and Development at the University of Cambridge (2014). During her MPhil she studied the role of identity in an artisanal oyster fishery in The Gambia, which inspired her to pursue a PhD in environmental social science at James Cook University (2019). Under the supervision of Joshua Cinner, Christina Hicks, and Georgina Gurney, her PhD project investigated the multiple values of ecosystem services and environmental justice in coastal communities in Papua New Guinea. 

Current Research Projects

  • Climate change resilient small-scale fisheries 
  • Environmental justice and moral principles in resource management and conservation
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on coastal fishing communities 

Selected media & research reports  

The Conversation: 'We didn't have money or enough food': How COVID-19 affected Papua New Guinean fishing familles. 

ARC COE in Coral Reef Studies Research Insights: Lived Experiences of COVID-19: Impacts on an Atoll Island Community

Lessons from the Pacific about balancing community and environmental needs

'Behind the Paper' Nature Behavioural & Social Sciences: Who you know matters for climate change adaptation


*See Googlescholar for recent publications  

Lau, J., Gurney, G. & Cinner, J. 2021. Environmental justice in coastal systems: perspectives from communities confronting change. Global Environmental Change.66:102208

Grantham, R., Lau, J. & Kleiber, D. 2020. Gleaning: Beyond the Subsistence Narrative. Journal of Maritime Studies.19(4):509-524

Barnes, M., Wang, P., Cinner, J., Graham, N., Guerrero, A., Jasny. L., Lau, J., Sutcliffe, S., Zamborain-Mason, J. 2020. ‘Social determinants of adaptive and transformative responses to climate change’. Nature Climate Change.10: 823-828,

Lau, J. 2020. Three Lessons for Gender Equity in Biodiversity Conservation. Conservation Biology. 34 (6): 1589-1591

Cinner, J., Lau, J., et al. 2020.Sixteen years of social and ecological dynamics reveal challenges and opportunities for adaptive management in sustaining the commons. PNAS. 166(52): 26474–26483

Lau, J., Cinner, J.,Fabinyi, M., Gurney, G. & Hicks, C. 2020. Access to Marine Ecosystem Services: Examining Entanglement and Legitimacy in Customary Institutions. World Development. 126: 104730

Lau, J., Hicks, C., Gurney., G & Cinner, J. 2019. What matters to whom and why? Understanding the importance of coastal ecosystem services in developing coastal communities. Ecosystem Services 35:219-230

Lau, J., Hicks, C., Gurney., G & Cinner, J. 2018. Disaggregating ecosystem service values and priorities by wealth, age, and education. Ecosystem Services 28:91-98

Cinner, J., Adger, W., Allison, E., Barnes, M., Brown, K., Cohen, P., Gelcich, S., Hicks, C., Hughes, T., Lau, J., Marshall, N. & Morrison, T. 2018. Building adaptive capacity to climate change in tropical coastal communities. Nature Climate Change 8:117-123

 Lau, J. & Scales, I. 2016. Identity, subjectivity and natural resource use: How ethnicity, gender and class intersect to influence mangrove oyster harvesting in The Gambia. Geoforum 69 (1):136-146


  • Resilience and equity of coastal resource use in developing communities. Coastal ecosystems support the livelihoods, food security and wellbeing of millions of people worldwide, but are particularly vulnerable to climate and other environmental change.
  • Gaps and critiques of ecosystem services; now a dominant paradigm for investigating how people derive wellbeing from ecosystems. Ecosystem services have been critiqued for over-emphasizing the availability of services as a proxy for benefits, and thus missing the socially-stratified ways that people value, access and coproduce ecosystem services.
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to normative judgements and evaluations in relation to fisheries management, development and conservation. Normative judgements encompass evaluations of what is right and wrong, fair or unfair, what constitutes flourishing and suffering and thus what ought or ought not to happen or be done.
  • 2019 to 2022 - Postdoctoral research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies (Townsville)
  • 2017 - Casual Officer, CSIRO, Dept. of Land and Water (Townsville)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2020 - Glenn Almany Memorial Prize for research beyond traditional academic boundaries, ARC COE in Coral Reef Studies
  • 2020 - Dean’s Award for High Degree by Research Excellence, James Cook University
  • 2019 - A MARE best student paper award
  • 2018 - Crawford Award
  • 2018 - International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) best student talk award
  • 2012 - Vice Chancellor's letter of commendation, The Australian National University
  • 2011 - Vice Chancellor's letter of commendation, The Australian National University

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 17+ research outputs authored by Dr Jacqueline Lau from 2018 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Crawford Fund - International Engagement Award

Beyond Food and Money: Uncovering the hidden values of gleaning in the Asia-Pacific

Indicative Funding
$12,000 over 1 year
Gleaning, the activity of collecting of marine organisms from inter-tidal habitats, is a common fishing strategy and provider of food and income. Yet, it remains poorly understood, and is persistently underrepresented in statistics and narratives about small-scale fisheries. Despite some emerging research on the importance of gleaning for household food security in vulnerable coastal areas in developing countries, the voices and values of gleaners often remain unheard in coastal management and development decision-making. To address this, we propose a collaborative project to investigate and begin to address the invisibility of gleaning in the Asia- Pacific through a capacity building workshop.
Jacqueline Lau and Ruby Grantham (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and University of Exeter)
Gleaning; Asia-Pacific; Gender; Capacity building; Environmental Values

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Fisheries Program - Small Research Activity

Spatially integrated Portfolio Approach to support livelihoods

Indicative Funding
$248,458 over 2 years
The Integrated Livelihoods Approach (ILA) provides an approach to diagnose and help navigate interrelated and cumulative impacts, trade-offs and co-benefits of interacting livelihood activities occurring in spatially defined coastal areas. Participatory and interdisciplinary research, integrated governance, negotiation, trust-building, ongoing conflict management, and cross-sectoral and political engagement are central to the ILA. This project will establish the mechanisms for achieving the strengthened networks, integrated governance and policy, and improved planning required to implement an ILA in Western Province, Solomon Islands, with the potential to scale-up to other locations.
Amy Diedrich, Jacqueline Lau, Tiffany Morrison, Nicholas Murray, Stephanie Duce, Claire Holland, Faye Siota and Bethany Smith (College of Science & Engineering, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, College of Business, Law & Governance and WorldFish Solomon Islands)
Sustainable livelihoods; Solomon Islands; Pacific Islands; Participatory research approach; Natural Resource Management

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Political economy of youth-led food system transformations (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Macro and Micro Level Determinants of the Contribution of Fish to Nutritional Security (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  5. Dr Georgina Gurney
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