Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, Associate Professor of Marine Conservation, is one of the UK’s top experts with a global reputation for converting science into useful evidence for policymakers. As DEFRA’s Marine Systems Research Fellow, she is leading the integration of holistic marine policy and evidence to inform the effective management of the UK’s marine environment post-Brexit.

Bridging the science-policy knowledge gap

Abigail leads numerous science-policy working groups, including on the implementation of pelagic habitat biodiversity conservation, as part of the UK's and EU's marine strategies. She provided evidence in Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee for the Sustainable Seas Inquiry and the DEFRA Fisheries Bill Inquiry. Her expertise has been sought all over the world, including advising on the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to her current Fellowship with DEFRA, Abigail has also previously been awarded the prestigious NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship and an invited Fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.


Thought leadership

The Brexit battle for marine biodiversity

The UK was presented with an opportunity to rewrite our environmental regulation; integrating fisheries policy with management of the wider marine environment through innovative and ambitious legislation. Now that we have left the EU, it’s clear that this opportunity has been missed. Read more about marine biodiversity and Brexit

Plankton and Policy

Abigail is leading the development of plankton indicators for the first UK-wide assessment of marine biodiversity. These indicators are used to monitor the health of the marine eco-system through understanding how environmental changes influence plankton distribution and community composition. This work is in direct response to policymakers' needs and the plankton indicators have been adopted by UK and European governments to inform marine management strategies, including the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. She has been a key champion for bringing together the UK’s plankton scientists into a tight-knit, collaborative community, ensuring their science achieves the greatest impact. In April 2021, she contributed to The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Horizon scanning for 'Rebuilding marine biodiversity'.


The person behind the pioneer

“Learning about overfishing, coral bleaching, climate change – those human pressures – showed me I actually need to understand people and connect them together.”

Read more about Dr Abigail McQuatters-Gollop

The University of Plymouth is excellent at science-policy engagement. I am really interested in finding those important pieces of science that can become evidence for policy change in marine management and conservation and also helping scientists respond to what policymakers need.

Ultimately, the bigger picture for marine conservation policy has to be addressing climate change. Without reducing our carbon outputs, other environmental progress is limited. If we want to improve the state of the environment, we need to understand people and connect the two together; what do people want and how can we manage that while having a healthy, sustainable and productive marine environment?

Dr Abigail McQuatters-Gollop



Home of marine

Our marine and maritime excellence in world-leading research informs policy agendas for the sustainable management of ocean resources. Our work has significantly improved how to forecast extreme coastal events and their impact on communities. We were the first to study the ecological effects of ocean acidification, and now lead the UK agenda for offshore renewable energy. On national and international levels, we have influenced key policies, conservation practices, responses to climate change, public perception of marine issues, and are defining the pathways toward tangible solutions.

The culture of close collaboration across the city with researchers, policymakers, and local businesses has resulted in Plymouth’s nomination for the UK’s first National Marine Park – an initiative underpinned by research at the University.

Marine Institute