Karen Alexander

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Karen Alexander

Karen Alexander

Research Fellow

Room 113.13, IMAS Waterfront, Hobart CBD Campuses

+61 3 6226 4869 (phone)

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Doctor Karen Alexander is an interdisciplinary Research Fellow in the Centre for Marine Socioecology.  She is a marine social scientist (and part-time ecosystem modeller) with wide-ranging interests, centring on marine governance. She specialises in issues around the transition to a green (blue) economy and more recently her research has focused on stakeholder engagement and social license for sectors such as offshore renewable energy and aquaculture.


Before joining the University of Tasmania in 2016, Karen was a research associate in marine social science at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS). In this role, Karen worked on a number of EU-wide projects including the KnowSeas project ( which focused upon knowledge-based sustainable management of Europe's regional seas; and the IDREEM project (, where she led a work package investigating the social impacts of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA). In addition, Karen held a UK Research Council funded Knowledge Exchange Fellowship in sustainable aquaculture where she worked at the interface between research and industry. Karen also led a summer school on Marine Renewables and Society as part of the IDCORE programme ( and a module in the Erasmus + Joint Master Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society (ACES)( which she will continue to teach as a guest lecturer.

Career summary



Offshore power production and marine stakeholders: from understanding conflict to impact mitigation.

University of the Highlands and Islands/University of Aberdeen




Environmental Governance

University of Manchester



BA (Hons)

Politics & Sociology

University of Strathclyde




Marine social science, marine governance, social impacts of marine industry, rapid policy network analysis, Ecopath with Ecosim

Teaching expertise

Karen has previously developed and led a two-week summer school on Marine Renewables and Society as part of the D.Eng IDCORE programme ( and a developed and led a module on aquaculture governance in the Erasmus + Joint Master Degree in Aquaculture, Environment and Society (ACES)

( She also has expertise in teaching at undergraduate level on marine policy, societal aspects of fisheries and spatial ecosystem modelling using Ecopath with Ecosim and Ecospace.

View more on Dr Karen Alexander in WARP


Marine governance

Ecosystem-based management

Marine policy & legislation

Marine spatial planning

Fisheries, aquaculture and marine renewables

Social license

Stakeholder facilitation

Qualitative and quantitative social science Ecosystem modelling

Research Themes

Karen's research spans a number of the University's research themes including Culture and Society; Marine, Antarctic and Maritime; and Environment, Resources and Sustainability. Karen's research interests include identifying and understanding those aspects of governance that can act as incentives or barriers to marine ecosystem-based management (EBM). This includes analysis of policies and legislation, analysis of tools and approaches, and working with marine stakeholders. Through her Research Fellowship in the Centre for Marine Socioecology, Karen will focus upon regional ecosystem-based coastal management, identifying the constraints that have prevented implementation of an integrated EBM approach in the South East Tasmania region thus far and developing a framework for EBM at the regional level.


Fields of Research

  • Human Geography (160499)
  • Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning) (160404)
  • Aquaculture (070401)
  • Natural Resource Management (050209)
  • Aquatic Ecosystem Studies and Stock Assessment (070402)
  • Environmental Politics (160605)
  • Social and Cultural Geography (160403)
  • Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology) (060205)
  • Environmental Sociology (160802)
  • Ecological Applications (050199)
  • Policy and Administration (160599)
  • Environmental Management (050205)
  • Studies in Human Society (169999)
  • Fisheries Management (070403)
  • Communication Studies (200101)
  • Behavioural Ecology (060201)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (050204)
  • Ecological Economics (149902)

Research Objectives

  • Coastal and Marine Management Policy (960701)
  • Fisheries - Aquaculture (830199)
  • Aquaculture Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) (830102)
  • Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments (960507)
  • Coastal and Estuarine Water Management (960903)
  • Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) (830204)
  • Fisheries - Wild Caught (830299)
  • Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales (960501)
  • Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society (970116)
  • Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards (960799)
  • Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability (960311)
  • Environmentally Sustainable Animal Production (839899)
  • Communication (950299)
  • Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity (960808)
  • Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection (960601)
  • Wild Caught Edible Molluscs (830203)
  • Wild Caught Crustaceans (excl. Rock Lobster and Prawns) (830202)
  • Fisheries - Recreational (830201)
  • Cultural Understanding (959999)


Karen has published papers on a range of topics including stakeholder and general public perceptions relating to the marine environment, marine spatial planning, marine governance and ecosystem modelling.  Many of her papers have been published in top-tier journals including PLoS ONE, Ecology and Society and Marine Policy. Karen is also a regular invited reviewer for a range of journals.

Total publications


Journal Article

(22 outputs)
2019Strain EMA, Alexander KA, Kienker S, Morris R, Jarvis R, et al., 'Urban blue: a global analysis of the factors shaping people's perceptions of the marine environment and ecological engineering in harbours', The Science of The Total Environment, 658 pp. 1293-1305. ISSN 0048-9697 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.285 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1


2019Strain EMA, Morris RL, Bishop MJ, Tanner E, Steinberg P, et al., 'Building blue infrastructure: assessing the key environmental issues and priority areas for ecological engineering initiatives in Australia's metropolitan embayments', Journal of Environmental Management, 230 pp. 488-496. ISSN 0301-4797 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.09.047 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1

Co-authors: MacLeod C


2018Alexander KA, Freeman S, Angel DL, 'Public attitudes and decision making in environmental resource planning a perception gap', Environmental Science and Policy, 80 pp. 38-43. ISSN 1462-9011 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.11.012 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1


2018Alexander KA, Haward M, 'The human side of marine ecosystem-based management (EBM): sectoral interplay' as a challenge to implementing EBM', Marine Policy, 101 pp. 33-38. ISSN 0308-597X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.12.019 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Haward M


2018Alexander KA, Hobday AJ, Cvitanovic C, Ogier E, Nash KL, et al., 'Progress in integrating natural and social science in marine ecosystem-based management research', Marine and Freshwater Research, 70, (1) pp. 71-83. ISSN 1323-1650 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1071/MF17248 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1

Co-authors: Hobday AJ; Cvitanovic C; Ogier E; Nash KL; Cottrell RS; Fleming A; Fudge M; Fulton EA; Frusher S; Kelly R; MacLeod CK; Pecl GT; van Putten I; Vince J; Watson RA


2018Graziano M, Fox CJ, Alexander K, Pita C, Heymans JJ, et al., 'Environmental and socio-political shocks to the seafood sector: what does this mean for resilience? Lessons from two UK case studies, 1945-2016', Marine Policy, 87 pp. 301-313. ISSN 0308-597X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.10.014 [eCite] [Details]


2018Kienker SE, Coleman RA, Morris RL, Steinberg P, Bollard B, et al., 'Bringing harbours alive: assessing the importance of eco-engineered coastal infrastructure for different stakeholders and cities', Marine Policy, 94 pp. 238-246. ISSN 0308-597X (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.04.028 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2


2017Alexander KA, Graziano M, 'Marine spatial planning: scale mismatches in a complex (regional) seascape', Regional Studies Association. Regions, 307, (3) pp. 15-16. ISSN 1367-3882 (2017) [Non Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2017Alexander KA, Hughes AD, 'A problem shared: technology transfer and development in European integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA)', Aquaculture, 473 pp. 13-19. ISSN 0044-8486 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2017.01.029 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1


2016Alexander K, 'Book review: Big, bold and blue: lessons from Australia's marine protected', Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs, 8, (4) pp. 308-309. ISSN 1836-6503 (2016) [Letter or Note in Journal]

DOI: 10.1080/18366503.2016.1245390 [eCite] [Details]


2016Alexander KA, Angel D, Freeman S, Israel D, Johansen J, et al., 'Improving sustainability of aquaculture in Europe: stakeholder dialogues on Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA)', Environmental Science and Policy, 55, (Part 1) pp. 96-106. ISSN 1462-9011 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.09.006 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 12Web of Science - 11


2016Alexander KA, Freeman S, Potts T, 'Navigating uncertain waters: European public perceptions of integrated multi trophic aquaculture (IMTA)', Environmental Science and Policy, 61 pp. 230-237. ISSN 1462-9011 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.04.020 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8Web of Science - 7


2016Alexander KA, Meyjes SA, Heymans JJ, 'Spatial ecosystem modelling of marine renewable energy installations: gauging the utility of Ecospace', Ecological Modelling, 331 pp. 115-128. ISSN 0304-3800 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.01.016 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 5


2015Alexander KA, Heymans JJ, Magill S, Tomczak MT, Holmes SJ, et al., 'Investigating the recent decline in gadoid stocks in the west of Scotland shelf ecosystem using a foodweb model', ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72, (2) pp. 436-449. ISSN 1054-3139 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsu149 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 12


2015Alexander KA, Kershaw P, Cooper P, Gilbert AJ, Hall-Spencer JM, et al., 'Challenges of achieving Good Environmental Status in the Northeast Atlantic', Ecology and Society, 20, (1) Article 49. ISSN 1708-3087 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5751/ES-07394-200149 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3


2015Alexander KA, Potts TP, Freeman S, Israel D, Johansen J, et al., 'The implications of aquaculture policy and regulation for the development of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture in Europe', Aquaculture, 443 pp. 16-23. ISSN 0044-8486 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.03.005 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 22Web of Science - 20


2015Gilbert AJ, Alexander K, Sarda R, Brazinskaite R, Fischer C, et al., 'Marine spatial planning and Good Environmental Status: a perspective on spatial and temporal dimensions', Ecology and Society, 20, (1) Article 64. ISSN 1708-3087 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5751/ES-06979-200164 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 12


2015Janssen R, Arciniegas G, Alexander KA, 'Decision support tools for collaborative marine spatial planning: identifying potential sites for tidal energy devices around the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland', Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 58, (4) pp. 719-737. ISSN 0964-0568 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2014.887561 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 4


2014Raymond CM, Kenter JO, Plieninger T, Turner NJ, Alexander KA, 'Comparing instrumental and deliberative paradigms underpinning the assessment of social values for cultural ecosystem services', Ecological Economics, 107 pp. 145-156. ISSN 0921-8009 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.07.033 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 70Web of Science - 64

Co-authors: Raymond CM


2013Alexander KA, Potts T, Wilding TA, 'Marine renewable energy and Scottish west coast fishers: exploring impacts, opportunities and potential mitigation', Ocean & Coastal Management, 75 pp. 1-10. ISSN 0964-5691 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.01.005 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 20Web of Science - 16


2013Alexander KA, Wilding TA, Heymans JJ, 'Attitudes of Scottish fishers towards marine renewable energy', Marine Policy, 37 pp. 239-244. ISSN 0308-597X (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2012.05.005 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 34Web of Science - 29


2012Alexander KA, Janssen R, Arciniegas G, O'Higgins TG, Eikelboom T, et al., 'Interactive marine spatial planning: siting tidal energy arrays around the Mull of Kintyre', PLoS ONE, 7, (1) Article e30031. ISSN 1932-6203 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030031 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 56Web of Science - 42


Chapter in Book

(3 outputs)
2018Alexander K, Graziano M, 'Scale mismatches: old friends and new seascapes in a planning regime', Towards Coastal Resilience and Sustainability, Routledge, CP Heidkamp, J Morrissey (ed), Australia, pp. 230-247. ISBN 9780815358633 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]


2018Alexander KA, Janssen R, O'Higgins TG, 'Siting offshore energy arrays: A case study using interactive marine planning', Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning, Routledge, KL Yates, CJA Bradshaw (ed), London, pp. 274-283. ISBN 9781138954533 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]


2017Alexander K, Brennan R, Kenter J, 'Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Stewardship', The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship, Cambridge University Press, C Bieling, T Plieninger (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 265-280. ISBN 9781107142268 (2017) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1017/9781316499016.027 [eCite] [Details]



(1 outputs)
2016Alexander K, 'Big, bold and blue: lessons from Australia's marine protected areas, edited by James Fitzsimons and Geoff Westcott, Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing, 2016, 402 pp', Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs pp. 1-2. ISSN 1836-6503 (2016) [Review Single Work]

DOI: 10.1080/18366503.2016.1245390 [eCite] [Details]


Contract Report, Consultant's Report

(2 outputs)
2015Potts T, Alexander K, O'Higgins T, MacLucas N, Logan K, et al., 'Supporting Marine Spatial Planning with Local Socio- Economic Data (MSP-LED)', Scottish Government, CREW (Scotland's Centre of Expertise for Waters), Scotland (2015) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

2014Alexander KA, Gatward I, Parker A, Black K, Boardman A, et al., 'An assessment of the benefits to Scotland of aquaculture', Scottish Government, Imani and SRSL, Scotland (2014) [Contract Report]

[eCite] [Details]

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Determinants of socially-supported fisheries and aquaculture (2018)$67,833
The fisheries and aquaculture industries are increasingly and acutely aware of the need to garner societal support, but unsure of how to address poor societal support at its root, who needs to be involved to address the problem, and effective pathways to improving societal support. However, there is a wealth of information available to address these gaps, including learnings from international fisheries and aquaculture, and the historical successes and failures within Australia. This project will draw together knowledge from existing literature and key informant interviews, and deliver the findings to industry in an appropriate, practical, and applicable format. The objectives of this research are to: 1. Define societal support; 2. Identify determining factors (internal and external) affecting societal support; Identify means by which to detect, assess and monitor societal support; and 4. Identify successful engagement behaviours and interventions.
Fisheries Research & Development Corporation ($67,833)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Alexander KA; Abernethy K
Top predators and feeding people from the ocean: natural behaviour, habituation, and the foraging ecology of Australian fur seals in Tasmania (2018)$6,735
Questions of how to interact with marine predators in terms of food production have never been more pressing. Healthy top predator populations are essential for regulating the mechanisms that promote biodiversity, ecosystem function and resilience (Rooney, McCann et al. 2006, Estes, Terborgh et al. 2011, Ripple, Estes et al. 2014, Lynam, Llope et al. 2017). However, interactions between predators and human food producers present various challenges (Carter and Linnell 2016, Nyhus 2016). Effects on marine wildlife range from bycatch to resource competition, to direct persecution. Conversely, carnivores can prey directly on livestock or fish corralled by humans, compete for resources, damage gear and infrastructure, and pose risks to human safety. Given that global demand for seafood is projected to increase (Smith, Roheim et al. 2010), anthropogenic climate change will impact fisheries catches (Barange, Merino et al. 2014), and that many global fish stocks are already overfished (Pikitch 2012), these challenges are likely to intensify into the future. The convergence of these factors creates a brewing storm of human wildlife conflict. Developing methods of interacting with wildlife while producing food from the ocean, that promote sustainable coexistence, is paramount to their long-term conservation.Interactions between seals, wild fisheries and aquaculture are a longstanding issue in Tasmania. While social, economic, and political dimensions influence the way society approaches seal-fishery interactions, an understanding of the relevant ecological dynamics of the species in question should be equally influential in this regard. Yet we currently understand very little about the way the Australian fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus, uses the Tasmanian marine environment. Developing an understanding of the foraging ecology of this species in the region represents an opportunity to inform evidence based, scientific fisheries management policies, as well as to enhance our understanding of the local marine environment. This socioecological project therefore seeks to fill key data gaps in our understanding to the ecology of the species in the region in terms of spatiotemporal habitat use and diet, explore how this information can inform more intelligent management practices, and ask what trade-offs can be agreed upon by multiple and diverse stakeholders to articulate broadly endorsed goals for coexistence.
Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment ($6,735)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Lea MA; Hindell MA; Alderman R; Alexander KA; Cummings CR
Seal relocation risk, effectiveness and natural context - Phase 1 (2017)$234,581
This research project will investigate the risks, effectiveness, and natural context of the Tasmanian fur seal relocation program using biotelemetry to assess seal movement and foraging behaviour in SE Tasmania.
Tassal Operations Pty Ltd ($234,581)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Lea MA; Hindell MA; Alexander KA; Alderman R
From global ideals to local realities - the foundations of sustainability (2016)$30,123
The focus of this project is the development of robust indicators for social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability in aquaculture. A vast number of standards and indicators have been developed worldwide, however little is known about the use of these indicators, nor what aspects are missing/contradictory/overlapping/ inadequate. It is these aspects that this project will address.
Scottish Association of Marine Science ($30,123)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Alexander KA

Research Supervision

Prior to coming to UTAS, Karen has supervised Honours and Masters projects to successful completion on topics such as marine invasive species and marine protected areas. Karen is currently co-supervising a PhD project with colleagues at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland investigating integration in marine and coastal Ecosystem Based Management.  She has also previously examined PhD theses. Karen is interested in supervising topics in social aspects of marine management, particularly those relating to the interplay of marine and coastal user and interest groups.  For information on a PhD opportunity available with Karen through the Centre for Marine Socioecology, please visit





PhDPolitical Representation in Institutional Design: Governing Multi-User, Multiple Values Marine Resources2016
PhDTop Predators and Feeding People from the Ocean: Natural Behaviour, Habituation, and the Foraging Ecology of Fur Seals in Tasmania2017