UCL Department of Geography


Peter Jones

Peter specialises in research on different approaches to governing human uses of marine ecosystems. He is internationally recognised as an authority on marine protected area, marine spatial planning and fisheries governance issues, with a particular focus on how state, market and participative approaches can be combined to achieve strategic conservation objectives.

He has been an advisor to the European Common Fisheries Policy and England's conservation agency on marine protected area governance and recently undertook a project for the United Nations Environment Programme to analyse how different approaches can be combined to effectively govern marine protected areas, based on 20 case studies around the world. He also led a work programme on governance as part of a project on the monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed marine areas to support the development and implementation of marine spatial planning in Europe's seas

More about Professor Jones
  • 1985 - BSc Biological Sciences, Portsmouth Polytechnic, specialising in marine ecology
  • 1988 - MSc Marine Resource Development and Protection, Heriot-Watt University
  • 1997 - PhD Value conflicts underlying the governance of marine protected areas, Heriot-Watt University
  • 1997 - Research Fellow, Jackson Environment Institute, University College London
  • 2000 - Senior Research Fellow, Jackson Environment Institute, University College London
  • 2001 - Lecturer, Dept of Geography, University College London
  • 2010 - Senior Lecturer, Dept of Geography, University College London
  • 2015 - Reader/Senior Associate Research Professor in Environmental Governance, Dept of Geography, University College London.
  • 2021 Professor of Environmental Governance, Dept of Geography, University College London.
  • 2023 Emeritus Professor of Environmental Governance, Dept of Geography, University College London

Further publications


I taught on the following modules:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shWT4eXZQfI


Other academic roles: External examiner

  • MSc Marine Systems and Policies, University of Edinburgh (November 2018 - October 2022)
  • Marine MSc programme: Marine Resource Development & Protection/Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology/Climate Change: Managing the Marine Environment, Heriot-Watt University (2010/11-2013/14)
  • BSc Environmental Management/Biology/Science, Imperial College (2003/04-2006/07)
  • BSc Marine Resource Management, University of Aberdeen (2003/04-2005/06)
  • Diploma in Ecology and Conservation, Birkbeck College ( 2002/03-2006/07).

To view Professor Jones's publications, please visit UCL Profiles:


Research Interests

Research Focus

My research is focused on marine ecosystem governance issues, with a particular focus on those raised by marine protected areas and marine spatial planning initiatives as a means of achieving biodiversity and fisheries conservation objectives. It is both interdisciplinary, crossing social-natural sciences, and translational, bringing theoretical perspectives to real challenges, contributing to both theories and practices.

In terms of environmental sociology, rather than adopting a structure or agency approach to analysing governance issues, my research adopts a realist institutional analysis approach, whereby the interactions between structure and agency and their co-evolution are the focus. In terms of environmental governance, my research challenges the widely held view that people-focused (neo-institutional) and/or market-focused (neoliberal) approaches should be the focus of governance.

My empirical work on marine ecosystem governance is premised on arguments that a combination of governance approaches is required, and that state-focused (neo-Hobbesian) approaches are also of critical importance. My research is recognised as challenging the current dominance of neo-institutional and neoliberal views, employing empirical analyses of the marine protected areas and marine spatial planning governance case studies to support the argument that whilst both people and market-focused governance approaches are important, the state plays a key role in steering markets and people, and that the state’s role is critically important if strategic conservation objectives and obligations are to be fulfilled and institutional resilience to the potentially perturbing effects of driving forces is to be developed.

Current Research Projects

Marine protected area governance (MPAG)

This research explores questions relating to the effective and equitable governance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and options for addressing them. A key theme is that MPA governance needs to combine participative, legal and economic approaches. Building on ideas concerning the governance of common-pool resources, this research employs a more holistic and less prescriptive theoretical and empirical framework for analysing case studies on the governance of MPAs. This trans-disciplinary approach is aimed at supporting the development of MPA governance approaches that build social-ecological resilience through both institutional and biological diversity. This builds on the argument that diversity is the key to resilience, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems. This research originally involved 20 case studies from around the world, funded by UNEP, culminating in the publication of the book Governing Marine Protected Areas: resilience through diversity. Details of a previous special issue of the journal Marine Policy and related outputs are available at MPAG website. Some recent developments related to MPAG research:-

  • 29 further MPAG case studies around the world are being undertaken, 16 of which, along with 18 from the original 20 case studies (published in the book), are being subject to a new multiple case study analysis of the governance of 34 MPAs for forthcoming UNE Guidance and a special section of the journal Marine Policy;
  • drawing on MPAG findings for UN Call to Action and Scientists' Consensus Statement under the 10X20 MPA capacity-building initiative by the Government of Italy, the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance and UNEP.

Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed marine areas (MESMA)

November 2009 - October 2013. Dr Peter Jones was part of this consortium of researchers around the EU that was awarded a € 6.6 million (UCL € 0.67 million) grant under the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme. Dr Jones led the overarching work programme on governance issues, that analysed different approaches to implementing marine spatial planning. The MESMA project involved 21 research organisations from 12 EU and related countries. The outputs of the MESMA governance analyses, including five papers and a special section of Marine Policy, are now available, based on 12 case studies in and around the EU on marine spatial planning; builds on previous related blog and presentation at Coastal Futures conference: Emerging tensions between blue growth and good environmental status, keynote at OECD Workshop: Marine Protected Areas and Marine Spatial Planning: co-evolution or competition? and presentation at final MESMA workshop MSP: who is at the helm?.

Journal editorial roles

International Editorial Board Member:

  • Marine Policy (since January 2004)
  • Manuscript reviewer for AMBIO Journal of the Human Environment
  • Advances in Marine Biology, Aquatic Conservation; Biological Conservation
  • Coastal Management; Conservation and Society
  • Conservation Biology
  • Conservation Letters
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Environmental Policy and Governance
  • Environmental Politics; Geoforum, Global Environmental Change
  • Journal of Environmental Assessment, Policy and Management
  • Journal of Environmental Management
  • Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
  • Maritime Studies; Nature Sustainability
  • Oryx
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • The Geographical Journal
  • Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.


Research Students

Current PhD Students

Jian Chen (primary supervisor): A coevolutionary governance analysis of marine protected areas in China.
Jason Lynch (subsidiary supervisor): A social-ecological approach to understanding the footprint of fisheries on tropical coral reef biodiversity​ - UCL London NERC DTP.
Daniela Laínez del Pozo (primary supervisor): Articulating Sustainability and Conservation in Marine Protected Areas in Northern Peru (primary supervisor) - LASPAU funded with additional fieldwork funds from WWF Russell E Train Fellowship, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Scott Neotropical Fund and RGS Dudley Stamp Memorial Award and a UCL Cross Disciplinary Training Award for an extra year of study and research with the Department of Anthropology's Human Ecology Research Group. Paper: Laínez del Pozo D. and Jones P.J.S. (2021) Governance analysis of two historical MPAs in northern Peru: Isla Lobos de Tierra and Isla Lobos de Afuera (free copy).

Past PhD students

  • Steve Long (finished 2021)- The sustainability of deep-sea fishing in Greenland from a benthic ecosystem perspective: the nature of habitats, impacts of trawling and the effectiveness of governance (subsidiary supervisor) - UCL London NERC DTP. Papers: Long and Jones (2021 Open Access) Greenland's offshore Greenland halibut fishery and role of the Marine Stewardship Council certification: a governance case study; Long et al (2020 Open Access) Identification of a soft coral garden candidate vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) using video imagery, Davis Strait, west Greenland (see Daily Mail coverage); Long et al (2021 Open Access) Critical analysis of the governance of the Sainte Luce Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA), southeast Madagascar; Long et al (2021 Open Access): Governance analysis of a community managed small-scale crab fishery in Madagascar; Long (2017 Open Access) Short-term impacts and value of a periodic no take zone (NTZ) in a community-managed small-scale lobster fishery, Madagascar; Jones and Long (2021) Analysis and discussion of 28 recent marine protected area governance (MPAG) case studies: challenges of decentralisation in the shadow of hierarchy; Long et al (2021 Open Access) Deep-sea benthic habitats and the impacts of trawling on them in the offshore Greenland halibut fishery, Davis Strait, west Greenland. Co-developer with ZSL of the online game TrickyTrawling, which explore players' ability to make deep sea fishing more sustainable. Now Postdoctoral Research Associate, Zoological Society of LondonSpatio-temporal trends in fisheries’ bycatch in the Celtic Sea.
  • Alix Green (finished 2020)- Understanding the drivers of carbon sequestration in contrasting seagrass ecosystems: Implications for regional seagrass conservation. Assessment of carbon fixing potential of seagrasses and governance analyses of MPAs as designations for Blue Carbon initiatives (primary supervisor) - UCL London NERC DTP. Papers: Green et al (2018 Open Access) Variability of UK seagrass sediment carbon: Implications for blue carbon estimates and marine conservation management; Green et al 2021 Open Access) Historical analysis exposes catastrophic seagrass loss for the United Kingdom. Now senior civil servant, HM Treasury.
  • Thuy Duong Khuu (finished 2019) - Reconciling biodiversity conservation with sustainable development: a case study of marine protected area governance in Vietnam (subsidiary supervisor) - Institute for Sustainable Resources, UCL; BHP Billiton scholarship. Papers: Khuu et al (2021) A Governance Analysis of Con Dao National Park, Vietnam; Khuu et al (2021) A governance analysis of two MPAs in Vietnam: Nha Trang Bay and Cu Lao Cham.
  • Holly Niner (finished 2019) - An analysis of cases and issues related to marine biodiversity offsetting in Australia (subsidiary supervisor, UCL Australia; BHP Billiton scholarship). Papers: Niner et al (2017) A global snapshot of marine biodiversity offsetting policy - Niner et al. (2017) Realising a vision of no net loss through marine biodiversity offsetting in Australia; Oceans Deeply news article on Holly's PhD research: Bait and Switch? Scientists Question Use of ‘Offsets’ in Ocean Projects; Niner & Randalls (2021) Good enough for governance? Audit and marine biodiversity offsetting in Australia; Niner et al. (2021Exploring the practical implementation of marine biodiversity offsetting in Australia. Now Research/Knowledge Exchange Fellow: Social-Ecological Systems, University of Plymouth.
  • Matthew Fortnam (finished 2016) - Transformations of marine governance: an analysis of processes that change the trajectories of social-ecological systems, with a particular focus on coral reefs in the Philippines (primary supervisor; ESRC funded). Paper: Fortnam (2019) Forces opposing sustainability transformations: institutionalization of ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. Now Lead Researcher, Centre for Humanitarian Change.
  • Minsuk Jun (finished 2014) - An analysis of different perspectives on MPA designation processes in California (primary supervisor)Thesis. Now Senior Project Manager, Network Rail.
  • Christina Geijer (finished 2013) Connecting the nodes: an analysis of MPA networks for migratory whale conservation (primary supervisor). Abstract - Papers: Geijer and Jones (2015)Geijer et al. (2013).
  • Wanfei Qiu (finished 2010) Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in China: towards the repositioning of the central state and the empowerment of local communities (primary supervisor). Thesis - Papers: Qiu et al. (2009)Qiu (2013). Now Programme Manager (Marine Environment), Office of Environmental Management and Mineral Resources, International Seabed Authority, Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Tom Roberts (finished 2009) People and the Sea: building partnerships to manage European Marine Sites (primary supervisor, ESRC-CASE Studentship with Natural England). Thesis - Papers: Roberts and Jones (2009)Roberts and Jones (2013). Now Lecturer, University of Surrey.
  • Elizabeth De Santo (finished 2008) Offshore marine conservation in the North-East Atlantic: opportunities and challenges for the developing regime (primary supervisor). Thesis - Papers: De Santo and Jones (2007a)De Santo and Jones (2007b)De Santo (2013). Now Professor, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • Peter Mackelworth (finished 2007) An analysis of issues concerning the designation and management of the Lošinj archipelago MPA, Croatia (primary supervisor). Thesis - Paper: Mackelworth et al. (2013). Now Conservation Director, Blue World, Croatia.

PhD's examined

  • Byrne A (2019) The origins, design and implementation of the UK Climate Change Act 2008. Department of Geography, UCL (internal examiner). Abstract & Thesis
  • González-Bernat MJ (2018) “Living with our backs to the sea”: Understanding marine and coastal governance in Guatemala. University of Western Australia (external examiner)
  • Chung HS (2015) Environmental justice and marine protected areas: developing environmental justice-based marine protected areas. Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Australia (external examiner)
  • Miller A (2014) Governance innovation networks for sustainable tuna. Centre for Marine Policy, Wageningen University (external examiner)
  • Abecasis R (2013) The human dimensions of marine protected area establishment in remote island settings: a case study in the Archipelago of the Azores. University of Western Australia (external examiner)
  • Carter C (2012) Tourism, conservation and development around a marine protected area in Kenya. Department of Anthropology, UCL (internal examiner). Abstract.
  • Kusakabe E (2011) Renascent social capital in Japanese communities: networks for building a sustainable society. The Bartlett School of Architecture, Building, Environmental Design & Planning, UCL (internal examiner)
  • Ponnampalam LS (2008) Ecological studies and conservation of small cetaceans in the Sultanate of Oman, with special reference to spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris. Millport Marine Biological Station, University of London (internal examiner)
  • Leujak W (2006) Monitoring of coral communities in South Sinai with particular reference to visitor impacts. Millport Marine Biological Station, University of London (internal examiner)
  • Smith TF (2002) Australian estuary management: drivers and perspectives. University of New South Wales (external examiner)