Institute for Regional Development

PhD student embarks on Spanish seafood expedition researching ways to drive taste tourism for Tasmania

A University of Tasmania PhD student will travel to Spain's Basque Country this week, to examine how the region is driving cultural food tourism through keeping the catch from its traditional fisheries.

Emma Lee, who is based at the Cradle Coast campus, secured the opportunity after becoming the first Tasmanian Aboriginal recipient of the Indigenous Fellowship, in the prestigious internationally competitive Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships program.

The awards allow overseas students to undertake study, research or professional development in Australia, while Australian students can embark on the same experiences overseas.

Ms Lee's Fellowship project will investigate how Basque traditional fisheries value-add to regional economies by keeping locally caught seafood in Spain rather than exporting it, and whether a similar approach could be implemented in Tasmania that integrates Aboriginal culture with taste tourism.

"This idea came out of my previous visit to San Sebastian in Spain's Basque Country where I participated as a food tourist. I observed how communities would congregate in public around food and culture and remember that tradition once happening here in Tasmania, but we seem to have lost that regional connection as the seafood industry has moved away from smaller fisheries to larger corporations," Ms Lee said.

"I will be looking at what marvelous lessons I can bring back to Tasmania which would help establish an Indigenous wild catch fisheries food tourism industry that celebrates our local culture and cuisine, while benefiting communities and businesses across the state," Ms Lee said.

During her Fellowship, Ms Lee will work closely with the International Institute for the Sociology of Law, and Azti Technalia, a premier institute dedicated to Basque fisheries and food tourism which will host her fieldwork component.

"This will give me insight into the network chain, from how locals catch the fish to the end product of eating the fish at the local 'Pintxos' bars."

 "As Indigenous people, we can show leadership in the cultural connection with seafood through our heritage sustainable fisheries management and I hope to draw upon this experience in Spain to help expand the industry in Tasmania, and even develop a high class seafood festival," Ms Lee said.

Associate Professor Robyn Eversole, Director of the Institute for Regional Development said Ms Lee's work in Spain reinforced the impact which was being made by University of Tasmania.

"Emma's work is a great example of the international reach of our research.  She has taken her interest in Indigenous co-management of land and sea resources onto the world stage.  This project will generate important insights for the development of distinctive regional food economies here in Tasmania," Associate Professor Eversole said.

Ms Lee will spend just under six months in Spain and is scheduled to depart Tasmania on Thursday.

Published on: 23 Aug 2016