Kristen Steele

Kristen Steele

Profile Display Name:
Kristen Steele
E-mail Address:
Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title
Eel fisheries from local to global: drivers of exploitation and prospects for sustainability
Research Theme
Biodiversity and Ecology
Primary Supervisor

Caroline Garaway

Primary Institution
Secondary Supervisor

Katherine Homewood

Secondary Institution

Freshwater eels (family Anguillidae) are at the centre of a complex interaction between socioeconomic forces and conservation efforts. Many species, including the Japanese, European, American and some tropical eels are highly valued for consumption, primarily in East Asia. Prices for the juveniles of certain species have recently reached more than 1,000 GPB per kg, incentivising intensive fishing effort. However, many of these same species have experienced steep declines in stocks and recruitment, with the American and Japanese eels considered ‘endangered’ and the European eel ‘critically endangered’. Conservation and management measures have been put in place in many countries, including habitat improvement, export bans, catch quotas and restricted fishing seasons. The overall effect of these efforts on stocks is still unknown. Meanwhile, environmental influences, including climate change, are also thought to play a part in the declines. This particular confluence of socioeconomic and environmental factors and trade-offs is not unique to eels and shares similarities with many exploited species, both of other fish and wildlife. As such, eels provide a demonstration subject for examining the ecological, economic and social dynamics influencing the protection of threatened species. This study will collect data on eel fishing and trade through quantitative analysis of global records as well as anthropological case studies in two eel fishing countries. These data will form the basis for the creation of a social-ecological systems framework to examine how global market dynamics influence human livelihoods, conservation efforts and the status of exploited eel species. The aim is to deepen understanding of the socioeconomic drivers of eel fishing to inform more effective management interventions in the future.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
Dr Matthew Gollock (ZSL Conservation Programmes) website:

Conferences and Workshops
  • Boundry Spanning: Advances in Socio-Environmental Systems Research (June 2018). Poster: Eel fishing and the Brexit blues.:
  • Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS)-New York (October 2017). Speed Talk: Fishing the critically endangered eel: management for sustainability in the UK.
  • Frontiers in Natural Environment Research, London NERC DTP student conference (August 2017). Talk: The UK eel fishery: management for sustainability in the face of Brexit.

Social Links
University Departmental Website:
Personal Website:

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