I am a marine conservation scientist with my research mainly focussed on investigating methods of tracking global fishing activity to monitor ecological impacts. I am interested in how remote sensing and data science can be used to inform ocean management and have also been involved in the satellite tracking of basking sharks and tuna in UK waters and creating quantitative assessments of ocean health.
Enforcement, Remote Sensing, and Data Science for Effective Illegal Fishing Deterrence
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been shown to provide the dual benefits of improving biodiversity within designations whilst also promoting the dispersal of larvae and adults of target and non-target species to areas outside their borders, potentially benefiting both fisheries and biodiversity beyond MPA boundaries. The degree to which MPAs achieve these goals are dependent on the level of protection offered with fish biomass in strongly protected no-take MPAs approximately seven times greater than in adjacent unprotected areas. However, pervasive illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, thought to account for the extraction of up to 26 million tonnes of fish worth $23 billion annually, can erode the benefits of MPA designations. Consequently, adequate enforcement of MPA regulations is imperative for designations to achieve their desired conservation outcomes. Generally, enforcement within MPAs is achieved through active patrolling by law representatives such as fisheries officer or rangers aiming to deter IUU activity. In general, high vessel, personnel and legal expenses associated with patrolling preclude many states from providing sufficient capacity to effectively patrol the entirety an enforceable area whilst enforcement budgets are set to be stretched over even greater geographic remits in the coming years with governing bodies aiming to increase MPA coverage to 30%. Therefore, this PhD will utilise the latest developments in remote sensing and data science to improve the cost effectiveness and deterrence effect of enforcement efforts through a multi-disciplinary approach to IUU risk mapping within large scale MPAs in the UK overseas territories.