Dirk Zeller

Professor, PhD (JCU), BSc Hons (JCU), BSc (JCU)

  • The University of Western Australia (M092), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • 7815 Citations
  • 38 h-Index
1988 …2020
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Personal profile


I am Professor of Marine Conservation and Director, Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean (www.seaaroundus-io.org). This is a partnership-expansion of the global Sea Around Us research initiative on which I have been working for 20 years, and which is co-located in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (www.seaaroundus.org). I direct and coordinate research activities of the Sea Around Us associated with the Indian and Pacific ocean regions, and co-direct global research and strategic funding decisions with Daniel Pauly (UBC), Maria (Deng) Palomares (UBC) and Jessica Meeuwig (UWA). I lead research on catch reconstructions and illegal and unreported fishing, fishing effort and first-order assessment of stocks, coral reef fisheries, ocean governance, fisheries policy and economics. I collaborate widely with colleagues around the world on Indian Ocean and global fisheries issues and meta-analyses, with FishBase and SeaLifeBase on biodiversity (the global biodiversity information systems for fish and non-fish marine life, www.fishbase.org, www.sealifebase.org), with the Fisheries Economics Research Unit (UBC, feru.oceans.ubc.ca) on issues in resource economics, with the Changing Ocean Research Unit (UBC, coru.oceans.ubc.ca) on issues of climate change and fisheries, and with legal scholars on issues related to international maritime boundary law and the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

I have a background in tropical marine biology and fisheries ecology from James Cook University, Australia, and have professional interests in marine and fisheries conservation and global fisheries sustainability, strategic and global policy developments and resource economics.


Publications profile

I have an established publications profile with over 370 scientific contributions (Google Scholar h-index of 49, over 14,800 citations), and publish both in the primary literature (Nature, Science, PLoS ONE, Marine Policy, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Environmental Health Perspectives etc.), in books (e.g., Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries, https://islandpress.org/book/global-atlas-of-marine-fisheries) and in dedicated book chapters and research reports. I was awarded the 2017 Ocean Awards for Science (jointly with Daniel Pauly), co-awarded the 2012 UBC Innovative Dissemination of Research Award and the 2011 Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award. I collaborate with scientists in Australia, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, and represent the global interest of the Sea Around Us at conferences and workshops throughout the world.



The research philosophy of the Sea Around Us and the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean differ from most other research groups. Generally, our team does not collect field or experimental data, but rather utilizes, harmonizes and analyzes pre-existing databases, data sets and information (i.e., secondary data) in novel and integrative fashion. We do big-data science in fisheries and marine conservation science. In a fashion, we operate as a ‘top-predator’ that uses novel and innovative ways to ‘consume’ and 'digest' large data sets and secondary data that are freely available around the world. My research focus is large-scale and global in nature, and I address strategic questions in support of international conservation goals.

Research interests

Global & Indian Ocean fisheries

Fisheries conservation

Impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems

Strategic marine conservation issues

Gill Oxygen Limitation Theory

Funding overview

All Sea Around Us activities have been generously supported over the years by a large number of charitable foundations from around the world. The Sea Around Us has been strongly supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts (Philadelphia) for many years, and our activities have more recently been funded by a range of foundations and entities, including the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, Vulcan Inc., the MAVA Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Paul M Angell Family Foundation. Currently, the Sea Around Us resarch is generously supported by the Minderoo Foundation. Overall, annual funding levels since inception of the Sea Around Us have been between US$500,000 and US$1.5 million per year.

Teaching overview

ANIM3353: Wildlife Conservation and Management

ENVT3306: Marine Conservation and Management

BIOL4407: Marine Conservation and Fisheries Management

ENVT5509: Global Ecological Challenges

SCIE5304: Science Practicum


Future research

Global & Indian Ocean fisheries
Fisheries conservation
Impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems
Strategic marine conservation issues
Gill Oxygen Limitation Therory


Previous positions

Senior Scientist & Executive Director Sea Around Us, University of British Columbia, Canada



External positions

Affiliate Faculty, University of British Columbia

1 Jul 2017 → …

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1988 2019

2 Citations (Scopus)

Agreeing with FAO: Comments on SOFIA 2018

Pauly, D. & Zeller, D., Feb 2019, In : Marine Policy. 100, p. 332-333 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Open Access
Food and Agricultural Organization

Corrigendum: Reconstructed Russian fisheries catches in the Barents Sea: 1950-2014

Popov, S. & Zeller, D., 2019, In : Frontiers in Marine Science. 6, p. 1-2 2 p., 33.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Open Access
2 Citations (Scopus)
marine fisheries
fishing effort
carbon dioxide

The hidden value of artisanal fisheries in Honduras

Canty, S., Funes, M., Box, S., Zylich, K., Derrick, B., Divovich, E., Lindop, A., Pauly, D. & Zeller, D., 1 Jun 2019, In : Fisheries Management and Ecology. 26, 3, p. 249-259 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

artisanal fishing
artisanal fishery

The making of a global marine fisheries catch database for policy development

Pauly, D. & Zeller, D., 2019, World seas: An environmental evaluation : Volume III: Ecological issues and environmental impacts. Sheppard, C. (ed.). 2nd ed. London: Academic Press, p. 221-235

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

policy development
catch statistics
Food and Agricultural Organization
marine fishery

Projects 2019 2020


2012 UBC Innovative Dissemination of Research Award

Dirk Zeller (Recipient), Arash Tavakolie (Recipient) & Daniel Pauly (Recipient), 2012

Prize: Honorary award

2017 Oceans Award (Science)

Dirk Zeller (Recipient) & Daniel Pauly (Recipient), 2017

Prize: Honorary award

Activities 2017 2019

  • 5 Hosting an academic visitor

Ussif Rashid Sumaila

Dirk Zeller (Host)
Feb 2019

Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor

Elizabeth Dinsdale

Dirk Zeller (Host), Jessica Meeuwig (Host)
Nov 2018

Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor

Rob Edwards

Dirk Zeller (Host), Jessica Meeuwig (Host)
Nov 2018

Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor

Daniel Pauly

Dirk Zeller (Host), Jessica Meeuwig (Host)
May 2018

Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor

Daniel Pauly

Dirk Zeller (Host), Jessica Meeuwig (Host)
May 2017

Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor