School of Marine Science and Technology

Staff Profile

Professor Selina Stead

Professor of Marine Governance and Environmental Science


In 2010, Selina Stead became the first Professor of Marine Governance and Environmental Science. She leads international teams to provide robust interdisciplinary scientific evidence for improving policy that supports marine resource management. We aim to impact positively on livelihoods of people dependent on healthy seas and oceans.

Selina specialises in aquatic food sustainability, particularly aquaculture and fisheries, modelling the environmental and socio-economic drivers underpinning human behaviour, poverty, weak governance and management failure. The efficacy of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a tool for sustainable resource management, particularly for coral reef fisheries in Small Island Developing States, has been studied in the Caribbean, western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Reconciling marine conservation goals with impacts on food security livelihoods is investigated under various scenarios of climate change, community adaptation and policy options.

Selina is a Founder member and Chair of the Scottish Government’s Marine Science Advisory Board. She was elected as President (2006-2012) of the European Aquaculture Society and member of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Advisory Committee. Selina serves on the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority and is part of its Science and Governance Working Group. She helped set-up the International Council for Exploration of the Sea's (ICES) Socio-Economic Aquaculture Working Group. Selina was invited to join the global E15Initiative Expert Group on Oceans, Fisheries and the Trade System, by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum in Geneva.


Selina Stead is an interdisciplinary marine scientist and science policy analyst whose motivation stems from a deep interest in the sustainable management of marine resources. Through her research, Selina has made notable contributions to diverse fields in fisheries, aquaculture, marine protected areas (MPAs), integrated coastal management, coral reef ecosystems and marine governance.

Taking inspiration from the way that fishers agree rules about fishing practices and informal governance mechanisms, Selina studies relationships between human behaviour and marine ecosystem health. She applies Bayesian modelling principles to parametrise models for science policy. Selina works with multidisciplinary teams using interdisciplinary approaches to expand the robust evidence base to change the reliance on natural science data - used in marine science policy making - to include socio-economic predictors of peoples’ behaviour.

In 1999, Selina identified a shortage of interdisciplinary scientists in marine resource management that worked on both fisheries and aquaculture, typically managed separately and independently from MPA goals. After a steep learning curve in social science theory and methods, gained from being a lecturer in two different social science departments (Agriculture and Rural Economics, and Land Economy, University of Aberdeen) for 8 years (1996-2004), she came to Newcastle University in 2004 to focus on integrating interdisciplinary science into policy making. She is particularly interested in the impacts of human activities on coral reefs and temperate marine environments.

Before taking up her position at Newcastle University as Lecturer in Tropical Coastal Management, Professor Stead was Director for Marine Resource Management at Aberdeen University, where she led an interdisciplinary research group for academics, professionals and policy advisers. She was a Degree Programme Director for 8 years and achieved an historical first in winning professional accreditation by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for the interdisciplinary undergraduate degree programmes she developed in marine science.

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 modelling ‘Consumption rates of predatory fish relevant for multi-species assessment and fisheries regulation in the North Sea and Atlantic off Spain’, Director of an Aquaculture BSc and Head of a finfish hatchery set-up for training students in fish husbandry, in Aberdeen.

Selina’s earliest research involved modelling complex interrelationships between effects of environmental change (temperature, salinity and photoperiod) on physiology, behaviour, growth performance and sexual reproduction of a diverse range of teleost and elasmobranch finfish. She held a Home Office Licence for finfish research including anaesthetising fish before they were X-rayed and for taking blood samples to measure steroid hormone levels using radioimmunoassays. She continues to use this experience in supervising students working on invertebrates such as the sea cucumber (Holothuria forskali and Holothuria scabra).

Roles and Responsibilities

University Roles

Public Orator (2016 - ongoing)

University Promotions Committee (2015 – 2017)

Recruitment Panel for Pro-Vice-Chancellor (2015)

University Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team (2012 – ongoing)

University Teaching and Learning Committee (2007 – 2015)

Topic Leader on Governance, Management and Planning for marineNewcastle (2012-2014).

Faculty Roles

Dean of Postgraduate Studies (2016 - ongoing)

Faculty Research Innovation Committee Member (2014 – ongoing)

NERC Internal Review Panel Member (2014 – ongoing)

Ethics Committee (2011-2015)

Institute of Sustainability Research Forum (2013 – ongoing)

Career Pathway Review Advisers Team (2013 - ongoing)

Women in Academia Coaching and Mentoring (2014-ongoing)

School of Marine Science and Technology Roles

Director for Research and Innovation (2014 - ongoing)

Chair of School Research Innovation Committee (2014 – ongoing)

Executive Board Member (2013 – ongoing)

Industrial Advisory Board Member (2014 – ongoing)

N8 Food Sustainability Champion (2014 – ongoing)

Marine Biology, Ecosystems and Governance Research Group Member (2014 – ongoing)

Chair of Marine Science MSc Exam Board (2004 - 2015)

Postgraduate Research Admissions Tutor (2013 - 2015)

School Athena SWAN Working Group (2014 – 2015)

Dove Laboratory Review Committee (2014 – 2015)

Degree Programme Director for MSc Aquaculture, Enterprise and Technology (2008-2013)

Deputy Degree Programme Director for MSc Tropical Coastal Management (2004-2008)


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, University of Aberdeen/SAC, 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


French (Elementary level)


Shotokan Karate, Diving and Snorkelling



Research Interests

My academic research is in marine science policy and environmental governance. I specialise in fisheries, aquaculture, marine protected areas, integrated coastal management and Small Island Developing States. I have experience in policy making working closely with government scientists and Ministerial advisers at a national level. Internationally, as part of the E15Initiative, I took part in a series of diplomatic roundtable dialogues with WTO Ambassadors in Geneva on fisheries and oceans issues to help validate ideas and test viability. Locally, I am working with fisheries managers, enforcement officers and fishermen to develop byelaws that are supported, can be measured and assessed so they work in practice. I am eternally optimistic that we can find ways to sustainably use and enjoy our seas and oceans but only through interdisciplinary science.

Current research addresses important contemporary marine resource issues such as the impacts of unsustainable management on fisheries, rule-breaking in marine protected areas, role of aquaculture in conservation and food security, community resilience in Small Island Developing States and human impacts on marine ecosystem health.

Some examples of ongoing research are: How do peoples’ perceptions influence their attitudes, which in turn, impact human behaviour on marine resource use? What scientific evidence is measureable and meets policy needs for prioritising management that works in practice? Can marine protected areas (MPAs) reconcile conservation and food security to support resilience in coastal communities? Why do fishers not comply with MPA regulations? How can sea cucumber aquaculture reduce poverty in vulnerable fishery dependent areas? Can shark fishing be sustainable? What drives piracy? Can open innovation improve research capacity building?

Current Research

2014-2017. Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), CI. BYCatch Assessment and Mitigation in Western Indian Ocean Fisheries (BYCAM), £450,572.

Past Research Projects

2012-2016. Darwin, CI. Responding to fish extirpations in global marine biodiversity epicentre, the Philippines, £294,151.

2012-2016. PI, BBSRC. Impacting food security with sea cucumbers in Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture, £92,173.

2010-2015. European Union, CI. Future of Coral Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE), PI on two work packages on governance, involving 18 partners from the Caribbean, Europe, Australia and US, €6.7 million.

2013-2015. ESRC, CI. Interdisciplinary exchanges: natural resource management seminar series. £24,147.

2010-2012. Leverhulme Trust, PI. Poverty eradication through aquaculture - sea-cucumber farming in Tanzania, £300,000.

2012-2014. Defra, CI. Impacts and Threats to biodiversity in the UK COTs, £149,944.

2011-2013. Defra, CI. Methodology for the assessment of priorities for international species conservation (MAPISCo). £136,501.

2011-2012. NERC, CI. Valuing nature network - Interdisciplinary methods to build a socio-ecological decision-making tool to inform marine governance and policy, £47,819.

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

2009. Cleveland Potash Limited, PI. Impacts of seismic energy on lobster fisheries. £18,000.

2009. Defra, CI. Life Cycle Analysis of a sustainable aquaculture unit. £4,000.

2009. Newcastle University, PI. Reef North East: Socio-economic feasibility study. £5,000.

2004-2008. European Union, CI. Operational evaluation tools for fisheries management options, (EFIMAS). 4,500,000 Euros.

2004-2008. European Union, CI. Coastal Research Policy Integration, COREPOINT, 4,200,000 Euros.

2006-2008. Heritage Lottery Fund, PI. Sustaining our coastal heritage: value of local knowledge, £141,500.

2005-2007. WIOMSA/World Conservation Society/Leverhulme Trust, CI. Effects of coral bleaching on coral reef fish, fisheries and ecosystem services in the Western Indian Ocean, £155,940.

2007. Wetlands International, PI. Strengthening local institutions: gender, sustainable management & rehabilitation of cockle grounds in Ecuador. £9,800.

2006. Natural England, PI. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, NE England. £7,675.

2006. Sir James Knott, PI. Focus groups on identifying local marine knowledge. £5,000.

Postgraduate Supervision

PhD and Postgraduate Research Candidates (14):

Kawther Al-Belushi (2012-2017) Marine biotechnology in Oman: potential for capacity building through open innovation. Funded by Sultanate of Oman Government.

Mohammed Al-Qattan (2012-2016) Piracy in the Gulf. Funded by the Kuwait Government.

Joseph Arthur (2016 -2021) Integrated maritime policy for sustainable development in West Africa. Self-funded.

Khalid Al-Subhi (2013- 2017) Small-scale and artisanal fisheries management and governance in Oman. Funded by Sultanate of Oman Government.

Katharine Hart (2012 –) Turtle conservation in Costa Rica. Self-funded.

Rebecca Korda (2012 - 2016) Inshore fisheries management and governance in England. Self-funded.

Jan-Michael Moser (2015 - 2018) Sandwiches and sandcastles – shifting the ecology of public health protection at bathing beaches. Funded by the IAPETUS DTP (NERC), the University of Stirling and CASE Partner SEPA.

Adibi Mohammed Nor (2013 -) Management, governance and optimisation of seaweed production in Malaysia. Funded by the Government of Malaysia.

Nwamaka Okeke-Ogbuafor (2012 - 2016) Indigenous governance and community-based organisations in Ogoni communities in Rivers State, Nigeria. Funded by Government of Nigeria.

Angelie Peterson (2012 - 2016) Social networks in coral reef dependent communities in the Caribbean. Funded by EU.

Georgina Robinson (2012 - 2016) Sea cucumber biology and aquaculture. BBSRC funded.

Yussuf Salmin (2015-2017) Fisheries bycatch in the western Indian Ocean. Staff MSc by research. WIOMSA funded.

Alex Scott (2014 - 2016) Perceptions of climate change and coral reef health in the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories. MPhil student. Fieldwork funded by Defra and self-funded.

Andrew Temple (2014 – 2018) Shark fisheries management and governance in East Africa. Funded by WIOMSA and Newcastle University.

PhD graduates (12):

Hatim Al-Bisher (2006-2009) Developing an integrated maritime policy for Saudi Arabia. Funded by government of Saudi Arabia.

Md. Shaha Ali (1997-2001) Effects of salinity and feeding on growth of Nile tilapia. Funded by government of Bangladesh.

Helen Bloomfield (2006-2009) Ecology and management of MPAs in Yorkshire. Funded by NERC.

Natalie Bown (2006-2009) Coral reef and MPA governance in Honduras. Funded by ESRC and Operation Wallacea.

Jenny Brack (2006-2009) Impact of acoustic noise from offshore windfarms on marine mammals and fish. Funded by UKRC.

Annette Breckwoldt (nee Muehlig-Hofmann) (2002-2007) Interdisciplinary appraisal of community-based marine resource management of a traditional Fijian fishing ground (qoliqoli). Self-funded.

Alex Caveen (2009-2012) A critical examination of the scientific credentials of Marine Protected Areas: sound science or a leap of faith? Funded by NERC and ESRC.

Tim Daw (2003-2007) How fishers’ count: engaging with fishers’ knowledge for fisheries science and management. Funded by NERC and ESRC.

Estelle Jones (2010-2015) MPA governance in Thailand. Funded by NERC and ESRC.

Margarita Lavides (2005-2009) Multi-disciplinary study of reef fisheries depletion in Philippines. Funded by the Haribon Foundation, Philippines.

Reuben Sulu (2006-2010) Social and ecological changes in Solomon Islands reef fisheries. Funded by Government of South Pacific.

Rachel Turner (2007-2010) Fishers' behaviour in Northumberland lobster fisheries. Funded by NERC and ESRC.

Esteem Indicators

Professional Memberships

Founder Member and Chair of Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland Science Scientific Advisory Board (2010-ongoing).

Non-Executive Director of Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland Board (2014-ongoing).

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Advisory Committee Board Member (2013-2018).

President of European Aquaculture Society (2006-2012) and Board Member of Directors (2000-2012).

Founder Member of International Council for Exploration of the Sea's (ICES) Socio-Economic Aquaculture Working Group (2012 – ongoing).

Marine Management Organisation (MMO) appointed Member of North Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) Committee and Scientific and Governance Working Group (2011-ongoing).

E15 Expert Group Member on Oceans, Fisheries and the Trade System – invited by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum (2014-2015).

Ministerial and Defra Appointed 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).

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

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

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

External Examiner duties

External Examiner for University of Mauritius, MSc Coastal and Ocean Management (2016-2018).

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.

External Examiner, UK Institute of Fisheries Management, 1999-2004.

Plenary, keynote and invited talks

Keynote conference speaker: ECSA 56 Coastal systems in transition: From a 'natural' to an 'anthropogenically-modified' state. Using marine governance to impact science policy in supporting marine ecosystem health and sustainable livelihoods, Bremen, Germany (September 2016).

Keynote conference speaker: The Ethical Challenges of Herring Food Webs and Value Chains. Multi-level governance frameworks. Vancouver, Canada (May, 2016).

Keynote workshop speaker: Sustainable Fisheries. Governance and interdisciplinary science for integrating fisheries and aquaculture in marine policy. York, UK (February 2016).

Keynote conference speaker: ARCH (Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons). Managing unintegrated coasts with multi-level governance, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (June 2015).

Invited speaker: Fish and Fisheries Journal 70th Birthday Symposium. Socialising fisheries: how can we implement policy? Bangor, UK (August 2014).

Keynote conference speaker: Society for Conservation Biology. Role of marine governance in seafood security and ethics. Glasgow, UK (July 2014).

Invited speaker: Sea cucumber aquaculture workshop. Is the sea cucumber an ideal solution for food security and livelihood needs in the Caribbean? Jamaica, (June 2014)

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

Keynote conference speaker: Community based aquaculture in the Western Indian Ocean: Challenges faced and lessons learned. Socio-economics of community based aquaculture. Zanzibar, Tanzania (December 2013).

Keynote speaker: Integrating science and policy using marine governance principles. EFARO General Assembly, Tallinn, Estonia.

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

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

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

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

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.

Conference Organisation

Aquaculture Europe 2016 Conference. Edinburgh, 20-23 September 2016. Steering Committee Chair.

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.

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.


Evaluated research grants for BBSRC, ESRC, NERC, Governments of Belgium, Canada, France and USA. 

Evaluator for research grants to Finland Research Council, BONUS (2014).

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

Expert Evaluator, European Commission, 2001-2002.

Editorial duties

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

Editor for Springer/Praxis Publishers, 1999-2005.

Funding sources

BBSRC, Carnegie Trust, Darwin, Defra, Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), EU; Governments of Bangaldesh, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the Seychelles; Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Leverhulme Trust, Scottish Executive, Sir James Knott, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Wetlands International, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Bank.

Industry and Government Relevance

The Seychelles Government – expert adviser on mariculture development plan for Blue Economy Initiative.

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 in western Indian Ocean.

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 MSc MST8024 Marine Ecosystem Governance and Socio-Economic Drivers in Management and Policy.

Lecturer, supervisor and or assessor for the following modules:

BSc MST1104 Marine Study Skills

BSc MST2101 Marine Ecology

BSc MST2104 Marine Research and Employability

BSc MST3101 Advanced Marine Biology

BSc MST3104 Research Project Supervision

BSc MST3105 Research Project Supervision

BSc MST3106 Research Project Supervision

BSc MST3107 Research Project Supervision

MSc MST8011 Critical Appraisal of Coastal Production Systems

MSc MST8023 Marine Consultancy project supervision

MRes MST8025 Marine Ecosystems & Governance project supervision

Degree Programme Director for MSc Aquaculture, Enterprise and Technology (2008-2013)

Deputy Degree Programme Director for MSc Tropical Coastal Management (2004-2008)