Interview with Dr Steve Fletcher, University of Plymouth (January 2014)
1. What are your main fields of interest in marine and coastal geography?
I am particularly interested in the academic space at the interface of marine science and policy. This is a fascinating area that is increasingly recognised as critical in delivering effective marine and coastal policy. In the last three years my work has focused primarily on three main areas: 1) the application of ecosystem services within marine and coastal governance, particularly in relation to marine protected areas and marine spatial planning; 2) critical appraisal of the effectiveness of marine planning and marine conservation approaches in the UK and Europe; and 3) identifying mechanisms through which marine governance can be enhanced through heightened engagement of society with the marine environment.
2. What key research projects are you involved in?
I am involved in a broad range of projects, including the large multi-partnered European projects VALMER and PEGASEAS which I co-lead with Dr Gillian Glegg (also of Plymouth University). VALMER is examining how marine ecosystem services can be integrated into marine and coastal governance in the Western English Channel using case studies in the UK and France, while PEGASEAS seeks to identify key lessons for marine and coastal policy in the Channel region and feed them directly into national and European policy. An increasing element of my work is undertaking contract research for external clients. Recent work has focused on marine ecosystem services and how this can be applied in the selection and management of MPAs and MPA networks, including for Natural England, JNCC, WWF Cymru, The Wildlife Trusts, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Currently I am leading projects for Natural Resources Wales to assess methods to determine the socio-economic benefits of MPAs in Wales and the Dart Harbour Authority to develop a management plan for the Dart estuary. I am also involved in a variety of other research projects focused on how to identify cultural ecosystem services in coastal and marine areas; how to visualise marine ecosystem services suitable for use with the public and with practitioners; and to identify the state of knowledge on how the public perceive and engage with the marine environment.
3. Are there any other initiatives which you would like to highlight to the group?
The Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research, Plymouth University is organising and hosting the 2nd Marine and Coastal Policy Forum will take place on 18-20th June 2014 in Plymouth. The event is supported by the RGS Coastal and Marine Research Group, the University of Brest, and the Marine Institute (Plymouth University). The event will provide an inclusive forum for policy-makers, policy-influencers, practitioners, regulators, and researchers to discuss contemporary issues surrounding the management of the marine and coastal environment. The programme format has been designed to enable a broad range of topics to be discussed with the intention of progressing those issues through informed and critical dialogue. Topics are likely to include:
- Marine science-policy integration
- Planning and management of the marine and coastal environment
- Marine conservation and MPAs
- New and emerging legislation, directives and policies
- Blue economy and offshore development
- Marine ecosystem services and the ecosystem approach
- Cultural and social aspects of the marine environment
- Societal engagement with marine issues
- High seas governance and conservation
- Management of marine resources
- Social media in marine and coastal policy
The geographical scope of the Forum will include the English Channel, NE Atlantic, North Sea, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea. The Forum will include the following contributions:
- Forum presentations (15 minutes)
- Pop-up/flash presentations (5 minutes)
- Workshops (2 hours)
The Forum will begin with an evening keynote lecture followed by reception on Wednesday 18 June 2014 and conclude at lunchtime on Friday 20 June with a Devon cream tea. A social dinner will be held on the evening of Thursday 19 June (included in the registration fee). For further information about the Forum, including registration and offering a presentation, workshop or poster at the event, please see: www.tinyurl.com/marcopolforum
4. What one question would you like to be asked? What is the answer to that question?
Q: How can someone find out more about your research and the work of the Centre for Marine and Coastal Policy Research?
A: Follow myself and the Centre on Twitter to find out what we are working on and to receive our tweets about pressing issues related to marine and costal policy in the UK, Europe and overseas. Our Twitter handles are: @drsfletcher and @marcopolpu. Alternatively visit our website: