Fisheries and


Research Lead – Dr Bryce Stewart

Fisheries provide crucial protein and nutrition to billions of people around the world, and this demand continues to grow. However, more than a third of fish populations are now overfished, and certain fishing methods have high bycatch and can cause long-lasting damage to marine habitats. Our research therefore seeks to balance the needs of fisheries with the need for marine conservation.

Our work ranges from pure biological studies such as on the age and growth of fish, to assessing the effects of marine protected areas on marine ecosystems, to developing and providing fisheries management advice to decision makers. 

We have a long history of working with stakeholders such as commercial and recreational fishers and community conservation groups. These people often have incredible knowledge about their local marine environment and are also the ones most affected by decisions about its management and conservation. Their involvement is therefore key to a more sustainable future. 

A diver completes an underwater survey (photo: Howard Wood)

Our Research Impacts

Marine Conservation Begins at Home

The world faces a biodiversity crisis, but the community on the Isle of Arran have shown that local people can take matters into their own hands. Since 2010, we have worked with the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) to lead the monitoring of the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone and South Arran Marine Protected Area which they successfully campaigned for. Our research has shown dramatic increases in benthic biodiversity and commercially important species such a king scallops and lobsters. This community action and conservation success have gained considerable media attention and influenced government policy and other community groups around the world.

Brexit and Fisheries – Does Reality Match the Rhetoric

Fisheries gained an incredibly high public profile during both the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, and the negotiations to agree a deal afterwards. Before the referendum, we wrote a highly influential article about what Brexit might really mean for UK fisheries. After the successful vote, we continued to research the topic and were regularly called to give evidence to the UK Parliament and to talk to the media. After the Brexit deal was agreed, we then conducted research to analyse what had been achieved for UK fisheries compared with what had been promised. There was a large gap. However, Brexit has produced a new and ambitious UK Fisheries Act and we continue to research the effects of its implementation.

Key Publications

Marine conservation begins at home: How a local community and protection of a small bay sent waves of change around the UK and beyond – Frontiers in Marine Science 

Metal pollution as a potential threat to shell strength and survival in marine bivalves – Science of The Total Environment  

The Brexit deal and UK fisheries— does reality matched the rhetoric? – Maritime Studies 

Latest Projects

Pollack Fishing Industry Science Partnership (FISP)

Pollack is an economically and socially important species for communities along the Devon and Cornwall coast and has experienced a 72% decline in commercial landings over the last 20 years. A lack of evidence hampers fisheries management, so the Pollack FISP is collecting vital data about pollack movement, habitat choice, populations and life history. This is a 2-year project, funded by Defra. The MBA is a key partner. 

Simon Thomas dissects the otoliths or earbones from a pollack. These can be used to determine age and growth (photo: Bryce Stewart)

Pyramids of Life – Working with nature for a sustainable future

Our planet’s natural resources face unsustainable demands and there is evidence that current management approaches are failing to move resource use towards a sustainable future. The ‘Pyramids of Life’ approach captures and helps to communicate complex relationships between different fish species, human behaviours, and marine ecosystem functions. This is a 4-year Sustainable Management of Marine Resources project funded by UKRI. 

Pyramids of Life logo

Our Team

Bryce Stewart Senior Research Fellow

Dr Bryce Stewart BSc (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Bryce Stewart BSc (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Bryce Stewart Senior Research Fellow

Keywords: Climate Change, fisheries, Marine ecology

My upbringing in Australia and Papua New Guinea inspired a deep fascination and love of the ocean. Since then, I have developed a career as a marine ecologist and fisheries biologist whose work has ranged from temperate estuaries to tropical coral reefs and the deep-sea. I gained a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD in Marine Biology from James Cook University, before moving to the UK in 1999. The central driver of my research has been to gain an increased understanding of marine species and ecosystems to help balance the provision of ecosystem services (particularly fisheries) with conservation. My specialities include the provision of evidence to improve fisheries management and policy and examining the utility of Marine Protected Areas for enhancing both conservation and fisheries. I work with a broad range of stakeholders including commercial and recreational fishermen, conservationists, and the seafood industry and I am passionate about communicating the findings of my research to the broadest possible audiences. I joined the MBA from the University of York in 2024.

Research Group: Fisheries and Conservation