Bethany Smith

 

Background 

I have a strong interest in human impact on sharks and other marine megafauna within the pelagic and deep-sea zones. Outside of my academic work I pursue this by creating media on topics of marine and shark conservation for my own personal page and for a number of conservation organisations. Sharks are a group whose conservation is particularly dependent on understanding and changing human behaviour and I reflect this in the messages I create.

 

My research interests are the shark family, their biology and conservation. The anthropogenic impacts that I am most focused on are the impacts of the fishing industry through targeted catch, bycatch and ghost gear.

 

My masters project is looking at using novel techniques to estimate fisheries bycatch. I will be focusing on shark bycatch within pelagic, industrial tuna fisheries in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) and will be collaborating with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, the regional fisheries management organisation for that area. I will be using a new approach that uses the overlap of species distributions and fishing effort to assess species vulnerability to bycatch. This is in contrast to other techniques which rely on catch data, something that is very limited for sharks and so not accurate in assessing this groups vulnerability. I will also be testing the potential to use advances in satellite data to inform on fisheries distributions by comparing against observer data. Once the model has proved successful, I will create vulnerability assessments for threatened shark species within the EPO and will use this to inform further work testing management strategies to mitigate their bycatch.

 

Employment/Experience:

  • Scientific diver for the Manta Catalogue Azores (September 2021)

Other Experience:

  • Volunteer with The Shark Trust UK, creating media on shark science (2022-Ongoing)
  • Volunteer with Conservation Optimism, creating media on optimistic conservation stories (2022-Ongoing)
  • Oxford University Conservation Society, president (2022-Ongoing)
  • Collaborating with various charities, scientists, and eco-tourism groups to create a documentary on the history of whaling and transition to whale watching in the Azores (2022-Ongoing)
  • Somerville college sustainability working group (2021-Ongoing)
  • Volunteer science communicator at Drusilla’s Wildlife Park (2019)