Dr Dirk SteenbergenProfile_Dirk_Steenbergen

Position: Research Fellow
Office: UOW Innovation Campus, ITAMS Building 233
Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, NSW, 2522, Australia


Dirk Steenbergen is a social scientist and a research fellow at ANCORS, working on community-based fisheries management (CBFM) in the Pacific region. Dirk has a PhD in community development and natural resource management from Murdoch University (2013). He joined ANCORS in September 2017 as part of a collaborative research project entitled “Pathways to change: Strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management”. He currently leads the CBFM research component in the Vanuatu chapter of the project.

Over the last 10 years Dirk has worked in various capacities on issues of rural development, local governance and coastal livelihoods, often applying participatory modes of collaboration with remote resource-dependent communities. His more recent work on small scale fisheries and locally managed marine areas in eastern Indonesia examined extents of local user-group integration into the policy and management processes. In his current work in the Pacific Island region, Dirk draws from extensive experience in community engagement across different cultural contexts; including sub-Saharan Africa, Greater Mekong Sub-region, and archipelagic Southeast Asia.

Research interests/Areas of expertise:

  • Co-management of natural resources: Community-based fisheries management (Locally Managed Marine Areas), participation and collective action
  • Local governance of small scale fisheries
  • Community development and livelihood studies
  • Ethnographic research approaches to Human-Environment interactions
  • Indigenous (coastal) cultures in the Asia-Pacific

Current research projects:

‘Pathways to change: Strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management in support of the New Song’, ACIAR-funded collaborative project between UoW, WorldFish, National fisheries authorities and SPC.

Publications (last 5 years):

Selected peer-reviewed journals

Steenbergen, D. J., Clifton, J., Visser, L. E., Stacey, N. and McWilliam, A. 2017. ‘Understanding influences in policy landscapes for sustainable coastal livelihoods.’ Marine Policy Vol. 82, pp 181-188, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.04.012
Steenbergen, D. J., Marlessy, C. and Holle, E. 2017. ‘Effects of rapid livelihood transitions: Examining local co-developed change following a seaweed farming boom.’ Marine Policy Vol. 82, pp 216-223, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.03.026.
McCarthy J, D.J. Steenbergen, C. Warren, G. Acciaioli, A. Lucas, and V. Rambe 2016 "Community driven development and structural disadvantage: interrogating the social turn in development programming in Indonesia." Journal of Development Studies. DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2016.1262024.
Steenbergen D.J. 2016 ‘Strategic Customary Village Leadership in the Context of Marine Conservation and Development in Southeast Maluku, Indonesia.’ Human Ecology No. 3, pp 311-27. DOI: 10.1007/s10745-016-9829-6.
Steenbergen. D.J., L.E. Visser 2016 ‘Caught Between Mediation and Local Dependence: Understanding the Role of Nongovernment Organisations in Co-management of Coastal Resources in Eastern Indonesia’, Anthropological Forum, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp 115-37, DOI: 10.1080/00664677.2016.1148012. 
Cohen P and D.J. Steenbergen 2015, ‘Social dimensions of local fisheries co-management in the Coral Triangle’, Environmental Conservation, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 278-288. DOI: 10.1017/S0376892914000423.
Steenbergen D.J. 2013, ‘The Role of Tourism in Addressing Illegal Fishing: The Case of a Dive Operator in Indonesia’, Contemporary Southeast Asia: Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 188-214.

Book chapters

Stacey, N, D.J. Steenbergen, J. Clifton, & G. Acciaioli 2017, ‘Understanding Social Wellbeing and values of Small Scale fisheries amongst the Sama-Bajau of insular Southeast Asia’, In: Johnson et al (eds) Social Wellbeing and Values of Small Scale Fisheries, MARE Series, Springer.
Prescott J. and D.J. Steenbergen 2017, ‘Laying Foundations for Small-Scale Fisheries Management: Taking a Step Back to Move Forward’, In: Jentoft et al (eds) The small-scale fisheries guideline: global implementation, Springer Publishers.
Stacey, N.E., G. Acciaioli, J. Clifton, and D.J. Steenbergen. 2016. ‘Impacts of Marine Protected Areas on Livelihoods and Food Security of the Bajau as an Indigenous Migratory People in Maritime Southeast Asia.’ In: Westlund L. et al (eds), Marine Protected Areas: Interactions with Fishery Livelihoods and Food Security, 111-124. Rome, Italy: FAO-UN.
Prescott J., J. Riwu, D.J. Steenbergen and N. Stacey, 2015, ‘Governance and Governability: The Small-Scale Purse Seine Fishery in Pulau Rote, Eastern Indonesia ’, In: Jentoft S. and Chuengpagdee (eds), Interactive governance for small-scale fisheries: global reflections, Chapter 4, Springer Publishers. 
McCarthy J., D.J. Steenbergen, G. Acciaioli, A. Lucas, V. Rambe and C. Warren 2014, ‘Dilemmas of participation: the National Community Empowerment Program’, In: Regional Dynamics in a Decentralized Indonesia. H. Hill. Singapore, ISEAS: 233-259.


Andrew, N., J. Albert, S. Albert, J. Bell, C. Brugere, B. Campbell, K. Charlton, P. J. Cohen, A. Delisle, H. Eriksson, Q. Hanich, P. Henriksson, C. Hicks, A. Lechner, J. Maelaua, C. Mohan, K. Pakoa, M. Phillips, J. Russell, M. Sharp, D.J. Steenbergen, N. Tran and M. Troell (In press). Fish in national development: contrasting case studies in the Indo-Pacific Region. C. Barlow. Canberra, Australia, Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research. 
Warren, C., G. Acciaioli, D.J. Steenbergen and J. McCarthy 2015, ‘Brief for GSDR 2015: Social Capital Formation in Community Development and Conservation Interventions: Comparative Research in Indonesia’, In: Global Sustainable Development Report 2015 Edition, (eds) D. Le Blanc, R. A. Roehrl, J. Ritz et al. Geneva, Secretariat of the United Nations.

Selected Presentations

Steenbergen, D.J. 2017, ‘Rapid Livelihood Transitions: Impacts of a rise in seaweed farming on island-livelihoods in remote E. Indonesia’, MARE People and the Sea IX, Amsterdam, 5th-7th July.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2016, ‘Following Fish to the Uplands: Understanding the working of domestic market networks around small scale fisheries in Timor Leste, CDU-Timor Leste Engagement Symposium, Darwin, Australia, 18th August.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2016, ‘How markets are influencing governability of Small Scale Fisheries: Understanding Opportunities for Multi-scale Governance’, 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS), Honolulu Hawaii, 19th-24th June.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2015, ‘Interrogating Ground-level Social Dynamics: Understanding its importance towards effective co-management of small scale fisheries in the Arafura Timor Seas’, Development Studies Seminar Series, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 12th August.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2015, ‘Markets and Management of SSF: Examining social networks and trade strategies in a coastal fishing village in Timor Leste’, MARE People and the Sea VIII Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 24th 26th June.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2014, ‘Towards inclusive management: Managing coastal resource access among mobile & resident resources users in the Kei Islands, eastern Indonesia’, World Parks Congress (WPC), Sydney, Australia, 16th November.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2014, ‘Mediations across co-management interfaces: Revealing subtle interests & accountabilities through SSF conflicts in eastern Indonesia’, 2nd World Small Scale Fisheries Congress (WSFC-2), Merida, Mexico, 24th September.
Steenbergen, D.J. 2014, [Panel Chair] ‘Engaging Beyond The Outer Reef: Village leadership strategies in community conservation & development’, Asian Studies Association Australia (ASAA), Perth, 10th June.

Potential topics for HDR & Honours Supervision:

  • Community-based fisheries management
  • Social and Economic dimensions of Locally Managed Marine Areas
  • Co-management of coastal resources (Vanuatu, eastern Indonesia)
  • Participatory marine conservation and planning


Last reviewed: 2 March, 2018