Dr Silvana Birchenough

Principal Marine Ecologist and Blue Belt Programme Lead

Silvana obtained her PhD from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK in 2003. She has 18 years of post-doctoral experience in marine ecology. She is a researcher and scientific advisor on issues related to ecology and human activities. She actively, works on assessing the ecological changes resulting from climate and human activities on marine species. The focus of my work has focussed on the potential impacts of multiple-stressors (e.g. temperature, pH changes and metals) on commercial species (e.g. lobster, cockles, scallops and Queen conch). This work has helped to generate science-evidence of likely climate effects to inform fisheries monitoring and management activities.

Over the last 5 years, I have been helping to organise and plan the science programmes for the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme in the Caribbean. My role is to oversee several fisheries and climate projects with the aim to generate new science to assist with decisions to support Blue growth activities. I am also actively pursuing my own research, assessing the vulnerability of fishing and climate of two Caribbean species, the spiny lobster and Queen conch in Belize

I have also completed a funded OECD fellowship to study the up-welling effects on the distribution of scallops in Chile, helping the scallop aquaculture hatchery to assess water quality parameters to inform the scallop production in the North of Chile.

Recently, I was appointed as the Cefas Programme Director of the Blue Belt Programme. This work is supporting the generation of scientific work across five Overseas Territories (OTs). The work is very novel and cutting edge, including areas of fisheries, conservation (Marine Protected Areas), education, habitat mapping and climate change. On the management side of the CME and Blue Belt work I effectively plan and work with large budgets, contracts, and data management issues in support of the delivery of science across several customers and stakeholders. The role of marine governance cuts across both overseas programmes and it is fundamental aspect to support all the work we deliver across the Caribbean SIDS and UK OTs. Some of this work involves direct discussions, negotiations, and provision of relevant marine evidence to support the implementation of their effective Marine Protected Areas Management plans, and the provision and planning of advice to support with targeted scientific monitoring and advice.

Previously, my ecological work has been to assess changes of marine organisms with in-situ techniques (i.e. Sediment Profile Imagery camera-SPI). This work has enabled the study of benthic processes and functions following disturbance events in the North Sea. This work has helped to develop indicators of seabed Integrity (D6) in support EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, to improve marine monitoring. I am an associated editor of the ICES Journal of Marine Science and Estuaries and coasts. I have successfully edited a recent theme set on ‘Decommissioning of man-made structures’, and at present hosting an ICES Theme Set of Developing blue growth strategies in support of advancing the development of Small Island Developing States. I have also participated on the special issue entitled: “A tribute to the life and accomplishments of Sidney J. Holt”.

At present, I am also involved in a synthesis with the UK Oil and Gas (INSITE- synthesis phase) to document the current knowledge associated with man-mad structures introduced in the marine environment the future challenges associated with decommissioning.

I just completed my turn as an elected chair of the ICES ‘Ecosystem Processes and Dynamics Steering Group’ (EPDSG) overseeing the work of 20 Expert Groups, supporting publications, communications and production of ToRs to support their science and advice across ICES and PICES.  I also chaired the ICES Benthic Ecology Working group (BEWG) over 6 years and I am an active contributor on the Working Group on Marine Benthal Renewable Energy (WGMBRED).



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Contact Details: silvana.birchenough@cefas.co.uk