Our Team

A trusted source of objective advice and support for the future of sustainable, profitable fisheries.

Andrew F Johnson

PhD, Chief Executive

Andrew established MarFishEco (MFE) in 2018 after 12 years of working as a freelance fisheries consultant and academic researcher. The inspiration of MarFishEco came after Andrew’s experience working with a number of environmental consultancies that he felt delivered quickly, but often without the rigor of academic research.

MarFishEco’s values and services therefore manifest from Andrew’s academic and commercial experience in more than 15 countries since 2006. Andrew received his PhD from the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, UK in collaboration with Marine Biological Association and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). His post-doctoral research was undertaken at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, USA. He is an expert author of the UN’s 2020 World Ocean Assessment (WOA) Drivers and Fisheries chapters and has reviewed fisheries research articles for 16 different peer-review journals and authored more than 20 of his own. His experience includes the development of sustainable fish farming and restocking methods in SE Asia, field evaluations of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries management in South America, economic evaluations of industrial fisheries gear types, and national and international fisheries trade policy analyses in Europe and the USA. He is passionate about the importance of efficient and effective communication and believes that research and management approaches that balance the ecological, economic and social dimensions of fisheries are those most likely to succeed over the long-term.

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Alfredo Giron-Nava

PhD, Data science & analytics lead

Alfredo is a fisheries oceanographer with a passion for sustainable and economic development. Alfredo leads MarFishEco’s data science efforts driven by his strong analytical background in physics, oceanography and ecology. His work encompasses time series analysis, parametric statistics, and nonlinear dynamics and modeling.

Alfredo has used these skills to infer causal relationships between environmental variability and fish population dynamics to help develop new methods for fisheries stock assessments in both data-rich and data-poor scenarios. He is interested in the development of poverty metrics for fishing communities to help better inform future fisheries management and improve the livelihoods and the long-term sustainability of fishing operations. Alfredo’s fisheries experience spans the America’s and has helped academic institutes, NGO’s and government fisheries agencies to better understand the fisheries, communities and markets with which they work. Among his many published works, Alfredo is contributing author to Making Fish in The Nature Conservancy’s Atlas of Ocean Wealth.

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Tara S Whitty

PhD, Engagement & Social-Ecological expert

Tara is responsible for MarFishEco’s social-ecological research and evaluations. Her experience comes from many years working with fisheries and conservation all over SE Asia as well as Mexico and Madagascar. As Gulf of Mottama International Advisor for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), her work has focused on capacity building for universities and organizations, supervising diverse research projects and coordinating the development of multi-stakeholder research programs, including a participatory project evaluation system.

Tara is particularly familiar with interactions between small-scale fisheries and marine megafauna, developing bycatch assessment protocols and evaluating bycatch-related conservation projects that look at risks to natural populations and effective and inclusive pathways toward solutions. She is passionate about inclusive conservation that represents those who rely on living marine resources for their livelihoods, as well as protecting the natural populations that are facing conservation threats.



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Gregg Verutes

Data science & GIS lead

Gregg brings a wealth of knowledge to MarFishEco with a background in spatial planning and ten years experience in conservation science design, he specializes in blending the fields of geography and technology to empower natural resource planners, managers, and analysts who are passionate about protecting the planet. Gregg has previously worked for The National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon and Stanford University and has consultancy experience in SE Asia, Central America, and Europe.

He has authored more than 20 peer-review publications and is special contributor on topics ranging from developing Belize’s first integrated coastal zone management plan and WWF’s Living Planet Report. At MarFishEco, Gregg builds decision-support tools to communicate sustainability science through data-driven visualization, game-based simulations, interactive storytelling, and machine-learning. He earned an M.Sc. from San Diego State University and a B.Sc. in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University.

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Elizabeth Hetherington

PhD, Fisheries Ecologist & Field Specialist

Liz is MarFishEco’s resident fisheries ecologist, with wide-ranging research expertise in open-ocean ecosystems with a heavy focus on the west coast of the USA. Her research has focused on determining habitat and resource use of marine species, particularly those of commercial value and/or conservation concern. Her research has supported ecological and economic analysis of tuna fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, and the management of marine megafauna and their interaction with fisheries along the US west coast. More recently, Liz has conducted research on the economic and market opportunities of deep-sea ecosystems. Aside from research, Liz is actively involved with ocean science policy and advocacy work. She is well-versed in policy and governmental relations, particularly in the United States. Liz has worked at NOAA’s SWFSC and collaborated with other NOAA institutes since 2012.


Maria Hadjimichael

PhD, Policy Associate

Maria is MarFishEco’s resident policy expert having spent the last 13 years researching the human dimension of fisheries governance particularly within the European Union. Her PhD research focused on the North/South divide in Europe’s fisheries governance and her more recent experience includes projects at the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission and research with the Innovative Fisheries Management Institute in Aalborg University, Denmark.

Maria is vice-chair of the European funded COST Action OceanGov (Ocean Governance for Sustainability – Challenges, Options and the Role of Science). She has collaborated in and led interdisciplinary ocean governance FP7 projects including MYFISH, ODEMM, SOCIOEC, VECTORS and GAP2. Maria is passionate about understanding how different policies and conventions influence the privatization of marine space and the critical assessment of policy failures to ensure the environmentally and socially just usage of the oceans.

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Rachel Labbe Bellas

Strategy & Business development

Rachel’s expertise covers both marine science and business development. Her ecological research has covered ocean advocacy and plastic pollution whilst her development and fundraising work includes scientific outreach for environmental business and nonprofits as well as her entrepreneurial role in the field of clean-tech and environmental impact. Rachel has worked in the USA, Canada, Brazil and Mexico and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

She invests a lot of her time with MarFishEco as an external consultant and business advisor helping diverse teams develop research and corporate strategies to advance their missions, outreach and funding streams. To date, her business portfolio includes work with The Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, The Smartfin Project, the 5 Gyres Institute, AltaSea (Port of Los Angeles) and the Center for International and Environmental Law (CIEL).

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