Tim Davies

Imperial College London
Division of Biology
Silwood Park Campus
Ascot SL5 7PY


In a nutshell

My PhD examines a key practicality of establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) in the open ocean; how do fishing fleets respond to the closure of their former fishing grounds? Whilst we have a reasonable understanding of how MPAs affect the dynamics of fishing fleets in coastal areas, much less is known about how offshore fishing fleets respond to area closures. My research focuses on the tuna purse seine fishery of the western Indian Ocean and looks at three subtopics: 1) how to skippers choose where and when to fish; 2) can we predict the response of a fishing fleet to an area closure; and 3) what are the likely ecological consequences associated with displacement of fishing effort from large MPAs in the western Indian Ocean?

Current Research

In recent years the focus of marine conservation has swung towards the pelagic ocean. Inspired by the successes of marine protected areas in coastal areas there have been numerous proposals to expand the use of MPAs to these open ocean environments. However, with few examples of from which to draw conclusions, the benefits and drawbacks of pelagic MPAs are not yet clearly defined. In particular there is considerable uncertainty in how fishing fleets are likely to respond to the closure of their former fishing grounds and how changes in fishing effort dynamics will impact fish stocks and marine ecosystems (i.e. the collateral impacts).

The aim of my PhD is to develop a model of fleet movement that can be used to predict how a commercial offshore fishing fleet will reallocate effort following an area closure. The purpose of this model is to investigate the ecological impacts associated with changes in fleet behaviour. I am using the western Indian Ocean tuna purse seine fishery as a case study example.

My research brings together together quantitative and qualitative approaches, applying statistical modelling techniques as well as engaging with skippers in the case study fishery.

Supervision and funding

This PhD is supervised by Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland (Imperial College London) with co-supervision by Chris Mees (MRAG Ltd), and is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Davies, T. K., Mees C. C. & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2014) The past, present and future use of drifting fish aggregating devices (FADs) in the Indian Ocean. Marine Policy 45, 163-170.  (Open Access)

Kaplan, D. M., Bach, P., Bonhommeau, S., Chassot, E., Chavance, P., Dagorn, L., Davies, T., Dueri, S., Fletcher, R., & Fonteneau, A. (2013) The true challenge of giant marine reserves. Science, 340(6134), 810.

Davies, T., Stevens, G., Struve, J., Meekan, M.G., Rowcliffe, M (2012) Can citizen science monitor whale-shark aggregations? Investigating bias in mark–recapture modelling using identification photographs sourced from the public. Wildlife Research 39 (8), 696-704.

Davies, T., Martin, S., Mees, C., Chassot, E., Kaplan, D. M. (2012) A review of the conservation benefits of marine protected areas for pelagic species associated with fisheries. ISSF Technical Report 2012-02. International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, McLean, Virginia, USA.


Poster: Student Conference on Conservation Science, University of Queensland, Australia, January 2013: “Fishing for clues: Understanding location choice decision making in an offshore fishery“. Second prize.

25th International Congress for Conservation Biology, New Zealand, December 2011: “The Chagos/BIOT MPA: A cautionary case study on marine spatial planning” as part of the symposium “Participatory Marine Spatial Planning: Shared Approaches and Experiences”. Presentation slides available as pdf here.

Masters student co-supervision

Jennifer Matthews, MRes Ecology, Evolution and Conservation – Incorporating Ecological Criteria into Coral Nursery Site Selection in Light of Existing Restoration Action Success at Koh Tao, Gulf of Thailand

Andreea Gaitan, MSc Conservation Science –  The social networks of wild edible fungi (WEF) collectors and their implications for conservation (pdf)

Relevant CV

2009-2010: Consultant, MRAG Ltd

2008-2009: MSc Conservation Science, Imperial College. Distinction. Thesis: An assessment of the conservation status of the whale shark Rhincodon typus in the Republic of Maldives using photo-identification and mark-recapture techniques (pdf)

2008: Resident Marine Biologist, Four Seasons Resorts, Maldives. Co-founder of the Maldives Whale Shark Project.

2006: Field assistant, Tsaobis Baboon Research Project. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.

2003-2006: BSc Zoology, University of Leeds. 1st Class. Leeds’ Naturalist Prize in Zoology.

2002-2006: Volunteer on three marine and terrestrial research expeditions with Frontier in Tanzania and Madagascar.

ICCS website

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