Steve Fletcher

Steve Fletcher

Professor of Marine Policy (Research)

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


I am a Professor of Marine Policy at the University of Plymouth, Chief Strategy Officer and former Head of the Marine Programme at the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) in Cambridge, a member of the UN International Resource Panel, and a Visiting Professor at both the UNiversity of Greenwich and the World Maritime University, Sweden.

I am an applied marine policy specialist with 20 years of experience inEuropean and global marine conservation and management. I have substantial experienceof developing strategic approaches to address marine management challenges incomplex organisational and legal contexts. I have extensive professionalexperience of working with senior decision-makers within UN andinter-governmental agencies and I have a global network of contacts. 

I have atrack record of securing and leading large international projects focused onthe conservation and management of marine and coastal resources. My research has been widelypublished in the principal sector journals and I have been an invited speakerat numerous national and global events


BSc (Hons) Geography, University of Aberystwyth, awarded 1994.
MSc Coastal Zone Management, Bournemouth University, awarded 1996
PgC Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Southampton Solent University, awarded 1999.
PgC Research, Southampton Solent University, awarded 1999.
PhD ‘Stakeholder involvement in coastal partnerships in the UK: towards secure representation’ awarded 2003.

Professional membership

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Member of the Higher Education Academy


Roles on external bodies

Professional positions external to Plymouth University


  • Marine Lead, UN International Resource Panel
  • Visiting Professor, Greenwich Maritime Centre, University of Greenwich
  • Visiting Professor, World Maritime University, Sweden
  • Member of the Pool of Experts, UN World Ocean Assessment
  • Steering Committee Member: Global Coral ReefPartnership.
  • Steering Committee Member: Global OceanBiodiversity Initiative (GOBI). 
  • Member: Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects ofMarine Protection (GESAMP)
  • Member: Panel of Experts on Ocean Governance inAfrica
  • External Examiner: University of Edinburgh MSc Marine Systems and Management
  • Contributor to University of Cambrdige MPhil in Conservation Leadership 

Referee for:
Marine Policy
Ocean and Coastal Management
Coastal Management Journal
Global Environmental Change
The Geographical Journal
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Journal of Geography in Higher Education

Teaching interests

My teaching interests are in marine and coastal governance, including Marine Spatial Planning, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, marine ecosystem services, and marine policy.  I bring my experience of working within the UN system to my teaching and provide insight on how UN system bodies operate and generate enhanced marine givernance outcomes for the ocean.My teaching approach is focused on student-centred learning, in which students are actively engaged in the process of learning through discussions, debates, engagement with external researchers and practitioners, and fieldwork.

Research interests

My key interests are focused upon various aspects of marine and coastal policy. This includes:

  • Ocean governance and sustainable development goals.
  • The role of natural capital and ecosysem accounting in ocean  governance. 
  • Marine spatial planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management.
  • Ocean literacy and the connections between society and the sea. 

Since 2011, I have been Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on over 30 funding awards with a total value of over £15m,  including projects funded by:
  • Global Environment Facility
  • UN Environment
  • German Development Agency
  • Defra
  • Crown Estate
  • Natural England
  • British Academy
  • Sasakawa Foundation
  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Daiwa Foundation
  • European Commission
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee
  • The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
  • River Dart Naivigation and Harbour Authority
  • WWF Cymru
  • The Wildlife Trusts
  • National Maritime Museum

Recent publications and reports:

Lu Y, Yuan J, Lu X,Su C, Zhang Y Wang C, Cao X, Li Q, Su J, Ittekkot V, Fletcher, S, 2018. Major threats of pollution and climate change to global coastalecosystems and enhanced management for sustainability. Environmental Pollution239:670-680.     

Carpenter A, ShellockR, von Haartman R, Fletcher S, Glegg G. 2018. Public perceptions ofmanagement priorities for the English Channel region. Marine Policy. Correctedproof online.

Rees SE, Pittman SJ,Foster N, Langmead O, Griffiths C, Fletcher S, 2018.

Bridging the divide:Social–ecological coherence in Marine Protected Area network design. AquaticConservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 28: 754-763.

Lemasson AJ, Kuri V,Hall-Spencer JM, Fletcher S, Moate R, Knights AM. 2018. SensoryQualities of Oysters Unaltered by a Short Exposure to Combined Elevated pCO2and Temperature. Frontiers in Marine Science 4, 352.

Fletcher, S  and Scrimgeour, R. 2018. AlderneyMarine Plan Options Report. UNEP-WCMC and Alderney Marine Forum.

Tamelander J, StaubF., Thornton H, Walsh L, Martin C, Scrimgeour R, Griffin H, Ingle R,McDermott-Long O, Weatherdon L and Fletcher S. UN Environment,International Coral Reef Initiative, UN Environment World ConservationMonitoring Centre. 2018. Analysis of international funding for the sustainablemanagement of coral reefs and associated coastal ecosystems: TechnicalBriefing. Available at:

Fletcher R,Scrimgeour R and Fletcher S. 2018. The contribution ofArea-based Management Tools to Sustainable Development Goals and Targets. UNEnvironment and European Commission.

Thomas H, VestergaardO, Olsen SB, Fletcher S, McOwen C, Fletcher R, Weatherdon L. 2018.Marine Spatial Planning in Practice: Evidence-based guidance and practicalguidance on the challenges, enabling factors and capacity needs for successfulMarine Spatial Planning. UN Environment, Nairobi.

Rogalla von BiebersteinaK, Fletcher S, 2017. Governance of areas beyondnational jurisdiction for biodiversity conservation and sustainable useInstitutional arrangements and cross-sectoral cooperation in the Western IndianOcean and South East Pacific. UNEP-WCMC.

Carneiro G, FletcherS, 2017. Cross-border cooperation in Maritime SpatialPlanning. European Commission.

Fletcher, S . and Ingwall-King, L. 2017. Marineecosystem benefits in Wales: Information to support sustainable management ofmarine natural resources in Wales. UNEP-WCMC.

Thornton H, GriffinH, Fletcher S, Harvey C, Harvey JJ andCousteau P-Y.  UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centreand International Coral Reef Initiative 2017. Harnessing citizen behaviourchange to protect coral ecosystems: Behaviour Change Campaign Briefing Note forthe Global Coral Reef Partnership.

Gee, K., Fletcher,S., 2017. Identifying culturally significant areas for marinespatial planning. Ocean and Coastal Management 136: 139-147.

Weatherdon, L., Fletcher,S. 2017. Blueprints of effective biodiversity knowledge productsthat support marine policy. Frontiers in Marine Science

Lu Y, Yuan J, He G,Visbeck M, Fletcher S. 2016. Rate ocean capital to help achieveSDGs. Nature 537, 34.

Alexander, D.,Rengstorf, A., Wellard, K., de Ros Moliner, A. Fletcher, S. 2016. Exploringthe Components and Processes of Marine Ecosystems Critical to Ecosystem ServiceGeneration. JNCC Report 594, Peterborough.

Saunders, J. Fletcher,S. 2016. Linking Ecosystem Services of Marine Protected Areasto benefits in Human Wellbeing. Valuing Nature Network.

Fletcher, S.  2015. Linking marine and coastalecosystem services to marine policy-making. In: The Oceans and Us. Neumann C, TBryan, L Pendleton, A Kaupo, J Glavan (eds.). GRID-Arendal, Norway.