Understanding the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems

Marine ecosystems

Researchers at the University of Exeter are studying how humans impact the marine environment

Dr Steve Simpson is a marine biologist whose research focuses predominantly on the impact of climate change on fish and fisheries, the impact of man-made noise on marine ecosystems, and conservation management.

Steve works closely with industry and policymakers to ensure his research has real-world impact and his expertise has also led him to be a featured scientist on the BBC's Blue Planet 2 series.

His research has shown that inhabitants on coral reefs produce a wealth of noises that many marine animals – such as corals, fish and crustaceans – use as cues during important phases of their life cycle. This information has subsequently shed light on how human-made noise can mask or disrupt these natural signals.

Steve says: “If you go to the Great Barrier Reef, there is a lot of noise from motorboats in some places. But unlike many pollutants we can more easily control noise. We can choose when and where we make it, and with new technologies, we can make less noise. For example, we could create marine quiet zones or buffer zones, and avoid known sensitive areas or times of year when juveniles are abundant.”

A new approach to sustainable fisheries

University of Exeter academics and students have also been working with a new community interest company to develop an alternative approach to supplying sustainable fish.

Sole of Discretion works with fishers who use smaller boats, static nets and hand line fishing techniques, which help protect fish stocks and cause less environmental damage. The company pays these fishers a fair price for the fish they land making sure it doesn't pay for them to fish is a less sustainable way.

Will you help us to protect fisheries and marine ecosystems?