Coastal Fisheries Programme
Colette Wabnitz
Fisheries Scientist (Aquarium trade)



Colette worked for SPC from late 2011 to early 2016 as a Fisheries Scientist for the aquarium trade. Her objectives were to work together with SPC member countries to establish and implement effective management and monitoring strategies that ensure the sustainable utilisation of coastal ornamental resources. Her duties included the assessment of aquarium fisheries, management system and resources status throughout the Pacific region; a review of existing aquarium trade legislation and policies currently in place; and assisting the development and sustainable management of the aquarium trade in countries that currently do not have an operational trade, but for which assessments indicate that the trade could develop sustainably. Some of her time was also dedicated to providing practical assistance to member countries in raising awareness of the aquarium trade industry through the design of appropriate educational initiatives.

Colette gained extensive experience with the aquarium trade industry while based at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge (UK), where she led the Global Marine Aquarium Database project . The latter provided a quantitative summary of the wholesale industry through the collection of sales record, and a comprehensive and independent synthesis of information on and issues surrounding the trade of live coral, fish and invertebrates destined for the ornamental market.

Prior to joining the Coastal Fisheries Programme at SPC, Colette shared her time as a PostDoc Fellow between the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the Pacific Island Fisheries Science Centre in Honolulu, Hawai‛i. Her project consisted of developing two ecological models for the reef and pelagic systems off the West coast of the Big Island to describe and understand ecosystem structure and processes, and how these may be affected by anthropogenic impacts such as nutrient pollution of groundwater, fishing, and climate change.

Colette’s previous work experience has allowed her to travel extensively, taking her principally to the Caribbean and Middle East, but also affording her unique opportunities in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Most of her work to date has focused on understanding the functioning of tropical ecosystems, how these may respond to human pressures, and the design, together with government, industry, NGOs and local communities, of appropriate measures for the sustainable use of their resources and the long term conservation of their services. To this end she has often combined the use of resource assessments, habitat mapping, ecological modelling, and capacity building initiatives.

Colette holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia (Canada), entitled “Sea turtle conservation and ecosystem-based management with a focus on green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and seagrass beds”, an M.Sc in Tropical Coastal Management from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK), and a B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Sciences from McGill University (Canada).

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