Claire Collins MSc.

University of Exeter


My research focusses on understanding the socioeconomic and cultural motivations for illegal fishing behavior within the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Sharks being the primary target for vessels arrested in BIOT, my research will comprehensively map socioeconomic drivers for shark fisheries in India and Sri Lanka. Measuring success of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) against their conservation objectives relies on a detailed understanding of compliance with regulations. Ensuring that they continue to be successful relies on managers being able to understand and predict behavior of fishers.

This Ph.D. will collect data from communities of fishers in Sri Lanka and India who have historically fished in BIOT using a mixed-methods approach. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected using traditional tools, such as interviews and questionnaires, along with more innovative techniques such as participatory mapping. Data collected will be analysed to understand why fishers from these communities’ risk arrest to fish in BIOT.

Conducting detailed studies often reveals a multi-faceted picture of what motivates illegal fishers and can contribute to more effective policy and management interventions. These are highly complex challenges and therefore, globally MPA management predominantly focuses on understanding and preventing illegal activity through economic deterrence alone.


Research on the interactions between human behavior and MPA regulations is vital to understanding and ensuring their positive ecological impacts. Our research highlights the need to integrate this research throughout every stage of MPA creation and implementation.

Claire Collins


2018 Present
Ph.D. student, University of Exeter and ZSL
2017 2018
Principal Investigator, Frontier Fiji Marine
2013 2018
Fisheries Consultant (full-time & freelance), MRAG
2012 2013
MSc. Aquatic Resource Management, Kings College London
2007 2010
BSc. Zoology, University of Manchester

My Project

  • Improving MPA Management
    Social Drivers for Shark Fishing Amongst Sri Lankan and Indian Fishers