Dr Joshua Cinner grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. He completed a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island in 2000, and received a PhD from James Cook University in 2006. His research focuses on using social science to improve coral reef management. The interest in this field began in 1996 while working as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Montego Bay Marine Park in Jamaica, where he witnessed first hand how conventional conservation strategies were failing because they did not understand or reflect the social, economic, and cultural needs of resource users.

He has since worked with various coastal peoples in the Pacific Islands, South East Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean to better understand how socioeconomic factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern coral reefs.

Joshua's work draws together a wide range of social science disciplines (including human geography, common property, anthropology, and conservation policy) and He often works closely with ecologists on interdisciplinary research topics. Increasingly, his research is moving beyond the case study approach toward a ‘big picture’ comparative exploration of human-environment interactions.

  • small-scale fisheries, social-ecological systems, co-management, vulnerability
Research Disciplines
  • 2017 - Elinor Ostrom Award
  • 2015 - Pew Fellowship
  • 2017 to 2020 - ARC Future Fellow
  • 2011 to 2015 - ARC Australian Research Fellow
  • 2007 to 2010 - ARC AUstralian Postdoctoral Fellow

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 181+ research outputs authored by Prof Joshua Cinner from 2004 onwards.

Current Funding

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

National Geographic Society (USA) - Level II grants program - conservation

Sustaining livelihoods and coral reefs in Papua New Guinea

Indicative Funding
$147,352 over 2 years
In many parts of the world, communities employ customary practices, such as rotational fisheries closures to sustain their coral reefs. I've been working with two such communities in Papua New Guinea since 2001. They periodically close sections of their reef to let the marine life recover. In 2017, we found that baseline conditions were just 1/3 of what they were in 2001. This project will integrate traditional knowledge, social science, ecology, and fisheries science to optimise the benefits from these closures, while ensuring that they can meet cultural and livelihood needs.
Joshua Cinner (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Rotational closures; fisheries; Customary management; Community-based conservation

Crawford Fund - Crawford-in-Queensland Student Awards

Advancing equity in small-scale fisheries management in the Pacific Island nations

Indicative Funding
$4,500 over 1 year
The project consists of conducting a workshop aimed at building the capacity of decision-makers from government and NGOs and promoting equity in small-scale fisheries (SSF) management in Pacific Islands nations through processes of knowledge exchange and co-creation. A two-day workshop will be held to exchange knowledge, share learnings, and bring together the perspectives of key stakeholders in SSF management in the Pacific Island nations regarding 1) what constitutes equity across its multiple dimensions and 2) what are the challenges, opportunities, and potential strategies to advance equity in SSF management in Pacific Island nations.
Cristina Ruano Chamorro, Joshua Cinner and Georgina Gurney (Research Division)
Equity; Small-scale Fisheries; Environmental Management; Pacific Island Nations; Stakeholders

Alliance of the CGIAR Centres - Contract Research

CGIAR Fish-Agri-Food Systems.

Indicative Funding
$429,091 over 4 years (administered by WorldFish)
JCU and WorldFish are committed to delivery of Flagship 2 "Sustaining small-scale fisheries" of the FISH CRP, and in particular Cluster 1 Resilient Coastal Fisheries and with contributions towards Cluster 3 Fish in Regional Food Systems (Program description http://on.cgiar.org/CRP2Proposals). This partnership will produce novel research contributing to increasing nutrition-sensitive fisheries management and policy for small-scale coastal fisheries, and leading to increased adpative capacity and resilience of small-scale coastal fisheries in the face of climate change. This partnership also represents a strong opportunity to build research-in0development capacity of students and post-doctoral research fellows based in Australia and in WorldFish focal countries.
Joshua Cinner, Terry Hughes and Cindy Huchery (Research Division)
Pacific Islands; small scale coastal fisheries; Climate Change; adaptive capacity and resilience; food security and nutrition; Sustainable Fisheries

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Future Fellowships

Identifying and learning from bright spots in coral reef governance

Indicative Funding
$940,000 over 4 years
This project aims to solve the global problem of unsustainable coral reef fisheries by locating and learning from `bright spots? in reefs. Bright spots are reefs in better condition than they should be, given the multiple drivers (e.g. markets and human population pressures) to which they are exposed. This project will use a global-scale analysis to identify bright spots, and field-based research to uncover the enabling social, economic and institutional conditions. Understanding these enabling conditions should help to formulate policy levers for more sustainable reef governance in other regions.
Joshua Cinner (Research Division)
Bright Spots; Markets; Coral Reefs; social-ecological

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies

Indicative Funding
$28,000,000 over 7 years
The overarching aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies is to provide the scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining ecosystem goods and services of the world's coral reefs, which support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the tropics. The Centre will enhance Australia's global leadership in coral reef science through three ambitious research programs addressing the future of coral reefs and their ability to adapt to change. A key outcome of the research will be providing tangible benefits to all Australians by bui8lding bridges between the natural and social sciences, strengthening capacity, and informing and supporting transformative changes in coral reef governance and management.
Graeme Cumming, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Malcolm McCulloch, Peter Mumby, Sean Connolly, John Pandolfi, Bob Pressey, Andrew Baird, David Bellwood, Joshua Cinner, Sophie Dove, Maja Adamska, Mia Hoogenboom, Geoff Jones, Mike Kingsford, Ryan Lowe, Mark McCormick, David Miller, Philip Munday, Morgan Pratchett, Garry Russ and Tiffany Morrison in collaboration with Janice Lough, David Wachenfeld, Stephen Palumbi, Serge Planes and Philippa Cohen (Research Division, The University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Stanford University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and WorldFish)
coral reef ecosystems; Climate Change Adaptation; ecological resilience; biodiversity goods and services; social-ecological dynamics

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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.

  • Assessing the effectiveness of social norms behavioural interventions to increase fisher compliance (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Equity in marine conservation: from global to local (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Sustainability of coral reef fishery in Indonesia (Masters , Secondary Advisor/AM)

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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