Project Leader

Hollie Booth

Hollie Booth

Who I am

I am a conservation scientist with a decade of experience working on cross-cutting conservation issues in challenging contexts. I’ve always felt that people and nature are intrinsically linked and that all lives – human and animal – deserve moral consideration. Because of my interest in nature and social justice and my thirst for knowledge and exploration, conservation science has always felt like my ideal career path. My career and research background have been quite diverse, spanning three continents and several themes. My field-based experience includes shark and ray management and illegal manta ray trade in Indonesia (Wildlife Conservation Society), protected area management and anti-poaching in East Africa (Frankfurt Zoological Society) and community-based tourism in rural Ethiopia (Counterpart International), as well as volunteer projects in Kenya, Nepal and Egypt. After several stints at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK, I also have a grounding in international environmental policy and experience in large datasets and developing technical and non-technical outputs to inform decision-making.
Despite this variety, I have always maintained a common interest in understanding synergies and trade-offs between conservation and human well-being and in designing and assessing the impact of conservation interventions. I am particularly interested in equitable and cost-effective conservation, to maximise conservation outcomes while ensuring vulnerable low-income communities are no worse off. I have an MSc in conservation science from Imperial College London (Distinction) and a first-class Honours degree in natural sciences and management studies from Cambridge. I am currently a DPhil Candidate at the University of Oxford in the Interdisciplinary Centre of Conservation Science group, where my thesis focuses on ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to Shark and Ray Conservation’. I’m a first-generation PhD from Birmingham, and passionate about equity and diversity in science. In particular, I’m interested in supporting the participation of women, local people, minority groups and people from low-income backgrounds in conservation and academia.

Where I work

Indonesia is an archipelagic nation located in the heart of the Coral Triangle. It is a global hotspot for marine biodiversity, but also the world’s largest shark- and ray-fishing nation, where people are highly dependent on fisheries for their food and livelihoods. Within Indonesia, my project is based in four locations: two fishing communities and two tourism destinations in Lombok and Aceh. Lombok is an island located in Indonesia’s southern island chain, West Nusa Tenggara, which is to the east of Bali. Within Lombok, the project focuses on two locations: Tanjung Luar, a small-scale semi-commercial shark fishery; and Kuta, an up-and-coming tourist destination about an hour from Tanjung Luar, which people visit for its beautiful beaches, awesome surf breaks and growing scuba-diving scene. Aceh is at the westernmost tip of Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra. Within Aceh, the project focuses on two locations: Aceh Jaya, home to a small-scale coastal gill-net fishery where hammerhead sharks and wedgefish are caught as by-catch; and Pulau Weh, an island diving paradise where it is possible to dive with reef sharks and devil rays. My project focuses on shark fisheries and tourism hotspots, as I am trying to understand how marine tourism can contribute to marine conservation through mechanisms for reducing threats to sharks in fisheries.

What I do

When I tell people I work in shark conservation, they immediately assume I spend most of my days swimming or scuba-diving and looking at sharks in the ocean – but this couldn’t be further from the truth! When I’m in Indonesia my work typically involves looking at dead sharks in fish markets; talking to shark fishers to understand their lives, needs and perspectives; analysing data in R; writing papers and reports; and coordinating with other stakeholders, researchers and policy-makers. As an applied interdisciplinary researcher, I typically spend most of my time thinking about socio-economic issues and policy rather than understanding the fundamental biology and ecology of sharks. When I’m in Oxford, I spend time sharing ideas and collaborating with other members of my research group and I love to find opportunities to mentor early career researchers and organise exchange visits for researchers from Indonesia to come to Oxford. When I’m not working you can usually find me surfing, running, reading sci-fi books or walking on the beach with my two Bali rescue dogs.

My project

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