Dirk Zeller

Professor, Leader Sea Around Us - Indian Ocean, PhD (JCU), BSc Hons (JCU), BSc (JCU)

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

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX

Personal profile


I lead the Sea Around Us Indian Ocean research group (www.seaaroundus-io.org), which is an international partnership of the Sea Around Us research initiative that is co-located in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada (www.seaaroundus.org). I direct and coordinate research, engagement, teaching and graduate training activities associated with the Indian and Pacific ocean regions, and globally. I lead research on fisheries catch and effort data, illegal and unreported fishing, the nutritional role of fisheries in society, first-order assessments of stocks, coral reef fisheries, ocean governance, fisheries policy and economics. I collaborate widely with colleagues around the world on Indo-Pacific and global fisheries issues and meta-analyses. This includes collaborations with the Harvard University Aquatic Food Composition Database team, with the Aquatic Resource Trade in Species Database team at the University of Washington, with FishBase and SeaLifeBase on biodiversity (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 390 scientific contributions (Google Scholar h-index of 66, over 25,000 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 named Australia’s Top Researcher for 2021 in the field of Marine Science & Fisheries, co-awarded the 2017 Ocean Awards for Science, the 2012 UBC Innovative Dissemination of Research Award and the 2011 Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award. I collaborate with scientists in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Indian, Caribbean and Pacific ocean regions.



My research serves civil society, conservation and humanity. The research philosophy of the Sea Around UsIndian Ocean lab differs at times from other research groups. Often, our team does not collect field or experimental data, but rather complements, harmonizes and analyzes pre-existing databases, data sets and secondary information sources in novel, integrative and collaborative fashion. We also extensively undertake gap-filling of datasets as identified through our research. 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 & Pacific Ocean fisheries

Fisheries conservation

Blue foods & nutritional profiles of seafood

Impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems

Small-scale & large-scale fishieries

Strategic marine conservation issues

Funding overview

All Sea Around Us activities have been generously supported over the years by a large number of philanthropic organizations from around the world. The Sea Around Us has been strongly supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts (Philadelphia, USA) 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, the Paul M Angell Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies through Rare, and the Minderoo Foundation.

Teaching overview

BIOL3305: Fisheries Science

ENVT2221: Global Climate Change & Biodiversity

ANIM3353: Wildlife Conservation and Management

ENVT3306: Marine Conservation and Management

BIOL4407: Marine Conservation and Fisheries Management

ENVT5509: Global Ecological Challenges

SCIE5304: Science Practicum

SCIE5505: Global Change and the Marine Environment


Future research

Global, Indian & Pacific Ocean fisheries

Fisheries conservation

Blue foods & nutritional profiles of seafood

Impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems

Small-scale & large-scale fishieries

Strategic marine conservation issues


Previous positions

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



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Affiliate Faculty, University of British Columbia

1 Jul 2017 → …


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