Professor Selina Stead
Professor of Marine Governance and Environmental Science

Selina Stead is Professor of Marine Governance and Environmental Science

She researches socio-economic drivers of marine ecosystem change and leads internationally funded research examining how to best use scientific evidence to impact management and policy. Influencing global society’s behaviour to create sustainable management is a major focus of her research group’s work, particularly in relation to coral reefs, fisheries, conservation, aquaculture and Marine Protected Area science.

Current research projects include governance of coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, small-scale fisheries in the UK and Philippines, sea cucumber biology in South Africa, Marine Protected Areas in Thailand, piracy in Kuwait and Somalia, community based organisations in Nigeria, and aquaculture in Malaysia.

Her research uses empirical data, underpinned by analytical frameworks to provide evidence for informed decision-making about marine resource management, policy advice and coastal development.

Selina serves on several Boards. At national level she is a Board member of the Scottish Government’s Marine Science Advisory Board, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Advisory Committee, North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority as a Marine Management Organisation Appointee and member of its Science and Governance Working Group. At an international level she serves on the International Council for Exploration of the Sea's socio-economics aquaculture group and served as a Board member on the European Aquaculture Society for 12 years including two years as President.


Before taking up her position at Newcastle as Lecturer in Tropical Coastal Management, Professor Stead was Director for Marine Resource Management at Aberdeen University, where she achieved an historical first in winning professional accreditation by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for the interdisciplinary undergraduate degree programmes she developed. Earlier she led an interdisciplinary research agenda for academics, professionals and policy advisers.

Other positions include a brief spell as a shark specialist advising on underwater filming of dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula for a TV documentary, ‘Ocean Forest’; EC funded postdoctoral researcher modeling ‘Consumption rates of predatory fish relevant for multi-species assessment and fisheries regulation in the North Sea and Atlantic off Spain’, Director of Aquaculture and Manager of a finfish hatchery in Aberdeen.

Selina changed her research focus from fish physiology to integrated coastal zone management in 1999, specialising in aquaculture and fisheries, after identifying a shortage of interdisciplinary scientists in marine resource management that worked on both sectors. As a staff member in 2 social science departments (Agriculture & Rural Economics; Land Economy; University of Aberdeen) for 8 years (1996-2004) she worked closely with social scientists and gained a wide range of social science research skills.

She appreciates the tensions between producing robust science and meeting policy advice timelines after working at the FRS Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen (1992-1996), formerly an agency and now part of Scottish Government, where she advises on strategic science priorities.

Roles and Responsibilities

1. Member of School of Marine Science and Technology Executive Board (MAST).

2. Postgraduate Research Admissions Tutor (MAST).

3. Chair of Marine Science MSc Exam Board (MAST).

4. Member of UTLC (University).

5. Topic Leader on Governance, Management and Planning for marineNewcastle (University).

6. Member of University Athena Swann Working Group (University).

7. Member of SAgE Ethics Committee (SAgE).

8. Member of SAgE Career Pathway Review Advisers Team (SAgE).


PhD Zoology (1992-1995) University of Aberdeen
MSc Fisheries Biology & Management (1991-1992) University of Wales, Bangor
BSc (Hons) Marine Biology & Oceanography (1988-1991) University of Wales, Bangor

Previous Positions

Director, Marine Resource Management, University of Aberdeen, 1999-2004
Director, Aquaculture & Manager of Finfish Hatchery, Aberdeen, 1996-1999
Postdoc - modelling feeding of fish in multi-species management, Marine Scotland, 1996
Scientific Adviser for elasmobranchs in TV documentary, ‘Ocean Forest’ 1996


European Aquaculture Society
Fisheries Society of the British Isles
Marine Biological Association UK
Scottish Association for Marine Science

Research Interests

As a marine interdisciplinary scientist, I collect empirical data for improving decision-making (governance) and policy advice on contemporary marine issues, e.g., ‘can MPA’s achieve both conservation and human dependency goals when communities are socially and economically dependent on declining fish?’

I apply mixed social science methods to joint analysis of biophysical, ecological and socio-economic survey data to investigate how we can reconcile conservation needs with human behaviour working at different geographical scales (local, national and regional) in different parts of the world, recent examples include:  Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, Honduras, Kuwait, Mauritius, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rodrigues, Saudi Arabia, the Seychelles, Somalia, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania, Thailand, Turks and Caicos Islands and the UK.

Impacts of implementing scientific evidence to improve policy development using social and economic surveys is a key area of research. Applying integrated coastal zone management principles, best practice in marine governance and marine spatial planning are current research themes. These are addressed using a unique mix of interdisciplinary research skills gained having trained as a natural scientist (1988- 1996) and as a staff member in two social science departments (1996-2004).

An international reputation in aquaculture and fisheries led to senior appointments as President of European Aquaculture Society (2008-10), Member of Marine Scotland's Science Advisory Board (2010-15), UK Ministerial Appointed Scientific Fisheries Officer (NESFC, 2005-10) and MMO Appointee on NEIFCA (2010-15).

Current and Recent Funded Research

1. European Union, 2010-2015, Future of Coral Reefs in a Changing Environment,  PI on two work packages on governance, €6.7million involving 18 partners from the Caribbean, Europe and US (with Pete Mumby, Robin Mahon, Clare Fitzsimmons and Nick Polunin).

2. Leverhulme Trust, 2010-2012, PI, Poverty eradication through aquaculture - sea-cucumber farming in Tanzania, £300,000 (with Yunus Mgaya and Matt Slater).

3. Darwin, 2012-2016, CI, Responding to fish extirpations in global marine biodiversity epicentre, the Philippines, £294,151 (with Nick Polunin and Maragrita Lavides).

4. Defra, 2011-2013, CI, Methodology for the assessment of priorities for international species conservation, CI, £136,501 (with Mark Whittingham, Phil McGowan, Jon-Paul Rodriguez and Alison Rosser).

5. Defra, 2012-2014, CI, Impacts and Threats to biodiversity in the UK COTs, £149,944 (with Clare Fitzsimmons and Nick Polunin).

6. NERC, 2011-2012, CI, Valuing nature network - Interdisciplinary methods to build a socio-ecological decision-making tool to inform marine governance and policy, £47,819 (with Sue Chilton, Hugh Metcalf, Maggie Roe, Pia Schuchert and Matt Slater).

7. European Union, 2009, CI, The effect of marine reserves on attitudes, perceptions and livelihoods of communities socio-economically dependent on the lagoon fishery in Rodrigues £81,000 (with Emily Hardman and Shoals Rodrigues).

8. European Union, 2004-2008, CI, Operational evaluation tools for fisheries management options, 4,500,000 Euros (with Rasmus Nielsen, Jenny Hatchard and Doug Wilson).

9. Heritage Lottery Fund, 2006-2008, PI, Sustaining our coastal heritage: value of local knowledge, £141,500 (with Joanna Redhead).

10. WIOMSA/World Conservation Society/Leverhulme Trust, 2005-2007, CI, Effects of coral bleaching on coral reef fish, fisheries and ecosystem services in the Western Indian Ocean £155,939.49 (with Tim McClanahan, Josh Cinner and Tim Daw).

11. European Union, 2004-2008, CI, Coastal Research Policy Integration, COREPOINT, 4,200,000 Euros (with Valerie Cummins, Bill Ritchie and David Green).

Postgraduate Supervision
PhD students (9 current):

(1) Katharine Hart (with Gray and Bell) – Turtle conservation in Costa Rica; (2) Nwamaka Okeke (with Gray) – Marine environmental management in the Niger Delta; (3) Georgina Robinson (with Johnston, Jones and Caldwell) – sea cucumber biology and aquaculture; (4) Rebecca Korda (with Gray) – Inshore fisheries management in England; (5) Mohammed Al-Qattan (with Gray) – piracy in Kuwait and Somalia; (6) Estelle Jones (with Gray) – MPA governance in Thailand; (7) Adibi Rahiman (with Caldwell) - Aquaculture in Malaysia; (8) Khalid Al-Subhi (with Gray) – sustainable fishing in Oman; (9) Angelie Peterson (with Fitzsimmons, Forster, Mahon, Turner) – Social Network Analysis of marine governance players in the Caribbean.

PhD graduates (11):

(1) Hatim Al-Bisher (2006-2009) - Developing an integrated maritime policy for Saudi Arabia; (2) Md. Shaha Ali (1997-2001) - Effects of salinity and feeding on growth of Nile tilapia; (3) Helen Bloomfield (2006-2009) - Fisheries science and management; (4) Natalie Bown (2006-2009) - MPA governance in Honduras; (5) Jenny Brack (2006-2009) - Impact of acoustic noise from offshore windfarms on marine mammals and fish; (6) Annette Breckwoldt (nee Muehlig-Hofmann) (2002-2007) - Interdisciplinary appraisal of community-based marine resource management of a traditional Fijian fishing ground (qoliqoli); (7) Alex Caveen (2009-2012) - A critical examination of the scientific credentials of Marine Protected Areas: sound science or a leap of faith?; (8) Tim Daw (2003-2007) - How fishers’ count: engaging with fishers’ knowledge for fisheries science and management; (9) Margarita Lavides (2005-2009) - Multi-disciplinary study of reef fisheries depletion in Philippines; (10) Reuben Sulu (2006-2010) - Social and ecological changes in Solomon Islands reef fisheries; (11) Rachel Turner (2007-2010)- Fishers' behaviour in Northumberland lobster fisheries.

Esteem Indicators – from 2008

President (elected:2008-2010) of European Aquaculture Society & Board Member of Directors (2000-2012).

Scottish Government – Marine Scotland Science Scientific Advisory Board Member (2010-2014).

Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science Advisory Committee Board Member (2013-2015)

Marine Management Organisation – appointed to NEIFCA Committee and Scientific and Governance Working Group (2011-2016).

Member of the ICES Socio-Economic Aquaculture Working Group (2012-2014).

Invited expert member to International Validation Team for the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany (May 2013).

Ministerial and Defra Scientific Fisheries Adviser, North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee (2005-2011).

Expert Advisor on AquaInnova - strategic research priorities for aquaculture governance, socio-economics and management (2011-2013).

Evaluator for research grants to Swedish Research Council (2013).  

Invited Expert Advisor – First MMO Workshop on Fisheries Management (December 2011).

Editorial Board Member, Journal Aquaculture International (2002-present).

Plenary conference address: EUA-CDE Interdisciplinarity: three perspectives. Developing future interdisciplinarists, Italy, 17-18 January 2013.

Plenary conference address: Marine aquaculture - 21st century challenge for world fishing, Vigo, 2009.

Keynote conference speaker: Integrated coastal management and the development of a knowledge-based marine economy, Ningbo, China (September 2012).

Keynote conference speaker: British Ecological Society, Balancing food security and environmental concerns: challenges of sustainability, UK (December 2012).

Keynote conference speaker: The Changing Nature of Scotland, Scotland, 2009.

Invited Panel member to review future of social sciences at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen, Germany (May 2011).

Session Chair, Royal Society of Edinburgh Conference on Sustainable Aquaculture, 2009.

Session Chair, AE2009, New Research Frontiers Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 2009.

Session Chair, Fisheries and Aquaculture Conference, World Fishing Exhibition, Vigo, 2009.

External Examiner for Imperial College, MSc Conservation Science (2012-2015).

External Examiner of PhDs for Imperial College and universities of Cardiff, East Anglia, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swansea and Tasmania.

Esteem Indicators – before 2008

Invited Seminar, Indigenous knowledge in marine science research, Durham University, 2006.
Invited Speaker, Aquaculture Canada, Newfoundland, Canada, 2005.
Invited Speaker, Coastal Futures Conf 2005, London, UK, 2005.
Invited Speaker, FAO Conf, Wierzba, Poland, 2004.
Invited Speaker, EU Aquaculture Workshop, Glasgow, UK, 2004.
Invited speaker (Keynote), AE2003 Conf, Trondheim, Norway, 2003.
Invited speaker (Keynote), AE2002 Conf, Trieste, Italy, 2002.
Steering Committee Chair, AE2003, Trondheim, Norway, 2003.
Steering & Programme Committee Member, AE2002, Trieste, Italy, 2002.
Programme Co-Chair, AE2001, Trondheim, Norway, 2001.
Programme Co-Chair, Aquaculture & ICZM. Oostende, Belgium, 2001.

Editor for Springer/Praxis Publishers, 1999-2005.
Expert Evaluator, European Commission, 2001-2002.
External Examiner, UK Institute of Fisheries Management, 1999-2004.


Carnegie Trust, Darwin, Defra, Economic & Social Research Council, EU; Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Environment Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, Scottish Executive, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Bank.

Industrial and Government Relevance

Defra – Methodology for the assessment of priorities for international species conservation. 

Consultant for UNDP to determine how MPAs can integrate socio-economic and governance considerations.

Consultant for Cleveland Potash Ltd leading scientific research examining impacts of seismic surveys on lobsters.

EC – advised on strategic research priorities for aquaculture governance, socio-economics and management as part of AquaInnova project. 



Module leader for 6 modules (MST8002, MST8004, MST8103, MST8015, MST8017, MST8018);

I also teach in MST3021 and MST8103;

I supervise UG and MSc research projects in: MST3099; MST8018; MST8009; MST8005.