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Alin Kadfak

Alin Kadfak
I am a researcher at the Department of Rural and Urban Development. My current research explores labour rights in sustainable fishing policy as a global environmental governance mechanism, using Thailand and Myanmar as case studies.


My research interests include resource governance within fisheries and coastal landscape in Global South. In my PhD (defended in 2018), I explored how urbanisation have influenced lives and livelihoods of small-scale fishers, and how the coastal landscape (water-land nexus) is understood and contested in India. In my current project, I expand my focus to global fisheries governance, by exploring how labour rights has become an emerging standard for multi-actors (state and non-state) in influencing how fisheries’ supply chains are governed.

My research is informed by critical engagements with (urban) political ecology, global environmental governance, labour-rights and critical geography.


International Rural Development and (LU0086), Natural Resource Governance (LU0093), Lokala perspektiv (LU0097)
PhD course on Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (วิธีวิจัยเชิงคุณภาพในทางสังคมศาสตร์), The Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand



2020-2022: Sweatshops at sea: Labour reform in the Thai seafood supply chain via hybrid global governance (Formas funded project, PI)

This project investigates the implementation of hybrid global governance in the Thai seafood supply chain focusing on labour standards. The project will carry out together with Associate Professor Miriam Wilhelm (University of Groningen) and Professor Peter Vandergeest (York University).

The Thai seafood supply chain has been significantly reformed in recent years in response to multiple EU, civil society and private sector initiatives. The reform process attempts to solve the vicious circle between environmental sustainability versus labour conditions: as fish catches diminish boats are forced to venture ever further out to sea driving up costs which may need to be recovered by relying on exploitable migrant fishworkers. The outcome of the reform process is a combination of formally binding laws, supply chain standards and operational codes in a complex hybrid global governance approach to sustainable fisheries. How multiple initiatives under different domestic and international regulations, standards and best practices will function in practical regulation remains unclear however. Thailand forms a crucial case in new approaches to global sustainability governance as social and environmental criteria become interlinked. This can help us understand how an international sector beset by long-running challenges may transform in the future.

2019 - 2021: Modern slavery in fisheries: EU-led policy on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices in Thai fishing industry (VR funded project, PI)

Thailand, ranked fourth in seafood exporter in the world, came under the spotlight in 2014, when numbers of international media exposed how fishworkers, often migrant labourers, have been trafficked, abused and had to work in bad working conditions with irregular payment on Thai fishing boats. The international scandal influenced the European Union in 2015 to give a yellow card, a warning indicating possible economic sanctions unless Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices are eliminated in Thailand. The coming together of labour rights and sustainability in EU’s imposition of reform in Thailand indicates an expanded approach to long-running sustainability challenges in fisheries.

This research project ‘Sustaining fish and fishworkers? Human rights for migrant Burmese fishworkers in the EU-initiated sustainable fisheries reform in Thailand’ aims to understand how EU’s fishing policy, as a global governance mechanism, addresses both sustainability and human rights using Thailand’s fisheries reform as empirical case. Working closly with Associate Professor Sebastian Linke (GU) and Professor Than Pale (Yangon University), the project will carry out in-depth studies in two sites, Thailand and Myanmar.

2020 - 2021: Proposal to Develop a ‘Southern Collective’ for Transdisciplinary Collaborations on the Northern Indian Ocean

The northern Indian Ocean region, incorporating the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman and Laccadive Seas, can be seen as an understudied marine transcultural borderland. This project aims to build a transdisciplinary ‘Southern Collective’ of natural and social scientists, and non-academic experts to address societal and environmental problems facing coastal communities in this region. Our collective will undertake activities to address two broad climate and livelihood related themes for interdisciplinary research, namely transboundary coastal and marine resources, and forced migration and adaptation. The Southern Collective will co-create digital learning modalities in order to re-center local knowledge around these themes. We will also create a web-based portal to facilitate grassroots public engagement and democratize knowledge generation in and for the region. This one year planning project is funded by the Social Science Research Council.

Welcome to follow our twitter @southcollect

Our collective will present our works at two of parallel panels on 'The Storied Life of Asia’s Deltas' and 'Estuaries and Pluralizing Southern Waterfronts' at the 12th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS 12), Japan, Kyoto (24-27 August 2021).


Möller, Anton, 2021. The power in Cooperation : a study of Cards, Vietnam and the EU. (Master in Rural Development and Natural Resource Management, Dept. of Urban and Rural Developmen, SLU)

García Aguilar, Mónica Carlota, 2020. Assessing the governance capacity to implement resource-oriented sanitation and waste management systems in urban areas of Latin America and the Caribbean : a case study of the town of Chía, Colombia. (European Master in Environmental Science, Dept. of Urban and Rural Developmen, SLU)

Selected publications

Journal Articles

Kadfak, A., Barclay, K., & Song, A. M. 2023. EU Trade-Related Measures against Illegal Fishing Policy Diffusion and Effectiveness in Thailand and Australia. Book series: Routledge Focus on Environment and Sustainability (in production).

Kadfak, A., Wilhelm, M., & Oskarsson, P. 2023. Thai Labour NGOs during the ‘Modern Slavery’Reforms: NGO Transitions in a Post‐aid World. Development and Change. 

Kadfak, A & Widengård, M. 2022. From fish to fishworker traceability in Thai fisheries reform. Env Planning E

Kadfak, A & Antonova, A. 2021. Sustainable networks?: Modes of governance in the EU’s external fisheries policy relations under the IUU Regulation in Thailand and the SFPA with Senegal. Marine Policy

Kadfak, A & Linke, S. 2021. Labour implications of the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing policy in Thailand. Marine Policy.

Gonda, N & the collective 2021. Critical Reflexivity in Political Ecology Research: How Can the Coronavirus Pandemic Transform Us into Better Researchers?. Frontiers in Human Dynamics, 3, 41.

Marschke, M., Vandergeest, P., Havice, E., Kadfak, A., Duker, P., Isopescu, I., & MacDonnell, M. 2020. COVID-19, instability and migrant fish workers in Asia, Maritime Studies.

Wilhelm, M., Kadfak, A., Phakoo, V., and K., Skattang. 2020. Private governance of human and labour rights in seafood supply chain chains – The case of the ‘modern slavery’ scandal in Thailand. Marine Policy

Kadfak, A & Oskarsson, P. 2020. An Urban Political Ecology approach to small-scale fisheries in the Global South. Geoforum, 108, 237-245 (open access).

Kadfak, A. 2019. More than just fishing: The formation of livelihood strategies in an urban fishing community in Mangaluru, India. Journal of Development Studies

Kadfak, A. 2018. Fishing from the Shore: Exploring coastal transformations and changing life opportunities in an urban fishing community of India. PhD Thesis. University of Gothenburg.

Kadfak, A. 2018. Intermediary Politics in a Peri-Urban Village in Mangaluru, India. Forum for Development Studies, 46 (2), 277-298.

Kadfak, A., and Oskarsson, P. 2017. The shifting sands of land governance in peri-urban Mangaluru, India: fluctuating land as an ‘informality machine’ reinforcing rapid coastl transformations. Contemporary South Asia, 25(4), 399 - 414.

Turner, L. M., Bhatta, R., Eriander, L., Gipperth, L., Johannesson, K., Kadfak, A., . . . Laas, K. (2017). Transporting ideas between marine and social sciences: experiences from interdisciplinary research programs. Elem Sci Anth, 5.

Kadfak A and Knutsson P. 2017. Investigating the Waterfront: The Entangled Sociomaterial Transformations of Coastal Space in Karnataka, India. Society & Natural Resources, 30(6), 707-722.

Bennett, N., Kadfak, A. & Dearden, P. 2016. Community-based scenario planning: A process for vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning to social-ecological change in coastal communities. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 18(6), 1771-1799.

Bennett, N. J., P. Dearden, G. Murray and A. Kadfak. 2014. The capacity to adapt?: communities in changing climate, environment, and economy on the northern Andaman coast of Thailand.  Ecology and Society, 19 (2), 5.

BOBLME (2012). Scoping study on migrant fishers and transboundary fishing in the Bay of Bengal. Report prepared for the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project. 98 pp. (First author)


Protecting migrant fishworkers’ rights at sea: The double-edge sword of traceability

Podcast: Sea Control 294 – EU Fisheries Governance with Dr. Anna Antonova

Looking for clues: COVID-19 and “Facebook fieldwork” with cross-border Burmese migrants

Can charcoal business be sustainable? Examples, challenges and opportunities in Africa

Migrant workers may be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea during the COVID-19 crisis

Who pays the price for cheap seafood?

Sustainable fish farming? Yeast and flies come to the rescue

Cross-disciplinary approaches: The ‘Must have’ tools to work with complexity

Conference presentations & papers (selected)

Kadfak, A. 2022. From fish to fishworker traceability in Thai fisheries reform. Presentation at DevRes 2022, Uppsala.

Kadfak, A. 2021. Seeing like EU IUU regulation: Exploring Thailand and Vietnam cases. Presentation at People & the Sea Conference XI: Limits to blue growth?, Online conference, 29 June - 2 July, 2021.

Short description: Seeing like EU IUU regulation paper draws inspiration from 'seeing like a standard' by Widengård et al, 2018 to attempt in answering the core question on 'What is the political problem that the EU IUU regulation ignores?'. We hope that by exploring EU IUU regulation as an non-innocent standard mode of fisheries governance, which EU attempts to governance from a distance, we are able to unpack which governance mechanisms are prioritised and translated to the thrid countries national policy, and why.

Kadfak, A. & Widengård, M. 2021. Assembling labour standards in fisheries governance: A case of Thai fisheries reform. Presentation at DevRes Conference 14 -16 June, 2021.

Kadfak, A. & Oskarsson, P. 2020. Theorising the waterfrontscape: Exploring social injustice in urbanising cities of the Global South. Presenation at Pollenc conference, Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration 22-25 September 2020.

Kadfak, A., Sebastian, L., & T., Pale. 2019. Standard mode of governance?: EU IUU policy in Thailand. Presentation at People & the Sea Conference X, University of Amsterdam, 24 - 28 June, 2019.

Kadfak, A. & Oskarsson, P. 2018. The shifting sands of land governance in peri-urban Mangaluru, India. Presentation at South Asia Across the Nordic Region 2nd annual meeting, University of Oslo, 5-6 June, 2018.

Kadfak, A. 2018. Sustaining fish and fishworkers? The inclusion of human rights in EU-initiated sustainable fisheries reform in Thailand. Presentation at a conference on East Asia Research: "What's in it for Sweden?" organized by Institute for Security & Development Policy, Gothenburg, 26-27 April 2018

Kadfak, A. 2014. Using assemblage concept to unpack waterfront transformations in an urban Indian waterfront. Presentation at The RBS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, London, UK, 27-29 August, 2014.

Kadfak, A. & Bennett, N. 2012. Migrant Fishers and Transboundary Fishing in the Bay of Bengal: The Issues, Proposed Solutions, and a Research Prospectus. Presentation at International Conference on Fisheries and Marine Science, Negombo, Sri Lanka, 23-24 August 2012.


Welcome to follow my personal Twitter @Alin_Kadfak account


Researcher at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Rural Development
Telephone: +46735562441
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala