PhD Research - Rebecca Gentry

BA, English, Northwestern University; Post Graduate Diploma, Marine Science, University of Otago; MS, Journalism, Columbia University; MA, Environmental Science, Columbia University

Demand for seafood in the United States and around the world is continuing to rise, driven by a growing population and increasing per capita consumption. Catches from fisheries have stagnated over the past 20 years as many stocks have become fully exploited. This has resulted in a general shift of expectations toward aquaculture to meet the world’s growing demand for fish. Indeed, on a global scale, aquaculture is the fastest-growing animal-food-producing sector and will soon overtake capture fisheries as the leading source of fish products.   

Within this context, Rebecca’s research focuses on the potential for marine aquaculture development and the constraints (both ecological and socio-economic) that may limit development. Additionally, she is involved in research to investigate how marine offshore aquaculture can best be integrated into spatial management of the oceans, considering its impact on other uses of the environment and its effect on marine ecosystems.

Dissertation Abstract:
Marine aquaculture is a rapidly growing industry that has profound implications for food security and the health of the environment. My doctoral work encompasses three different research projects focused on marine aquaculture potential and the management strategies that can be used to promote sustainable and conservation-focused development. First, I will present a framework for marine spatial planning for offshore aquaculture and show how spatial management can be used to maximize value and create synergies with other ocean management objectives. Second, using spatial modelling I assess the production potential for marine aquaculture at a global scale and conclude that vast areas of suitable aquaculture space exist in nearly every coastal country. This analysis demonstrates that suitable space is unlikely to limit marine aquaculture development, and that considerable flexibility exists to site farms in a way that aligns with economic, environmental, and social objectives. Finally, I use bioeconomic theory to identify if aquaculture may be a promising market solution for the recovery of threatened species.

Year Admitted: 2011
Research Areas: Marine Ecology, Marine Spatial Planning, Aquaculture, Fisheries
Faculty Advisor: Steve Gaines


Froelich, H.E., Gentry, R.R., Rust, M.B., Grimm, D., Halpern, B.S. 2017. Public perceptions of aquaculture: evaluating global spatiotemporal patterns of sentiment. Plos One. 12(1): e0169281. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169281

Gentry, R.R., Lester, S.E., Cappel, C.C., White, C., Bell, T.W., Stevens, J., Gaines, S.D. 2016. Offshore aquaculture: Spatial planning principles for sustainable development. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2637

Froehlich, H.E., Gentry, R.R. and Halpern, B.S. 2016. Synthesis and comparative analysis of physiological tolerance and life-history growth traits of marine aquaculture species. Aquaculture. 460: 75-82.

Dee, L.E., Miller, S.J., Peavey, L.E., Bradley, D., Gentry, R.R., Startz, R., Gaines, S.D. and Lester, S.E. 2016. Functional diversity of catch mitigates negative effects of temperature variability on fisheries yields. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 283: 20161435.

Aceves Bueno, E., Adelye, A.S., Bradley, D., Brandt, W., Callery, P., Feraud, M., Garner, K., Gentry, R., Huang, Y., McCullough, I., Pearlman, I., Sutherland, S., Wilkinson, W., Yang, Y., Zink, T., Anderson, S., Tague, C. 2015. Citizen Science as an approach for overcoming insufficient monitoring and inadequate stakeholder buy-in in adaptive management: Criteria and evidence. Ecosystems. 18: 493-506.

Tiller, R., Gentry, R., Richards, R. 2013. Stakeholder driven future scenarios as an element of interdisciplinary management tools: The case of future offshore aquaculture development and the potential effects on fishermen in Santa Barbara, California. Ocean and Coastal Management. 73: 127-135.

Gabe, J. and Gentry, R. Government. 2013 In Vale R. and Vale B. Living within a Fair Share Ecological Footprint. London: Routledge.

Fellowship awards associated with your PhD work

  • SeaGrant Traineeship, 2012-2014
  • Deckers Scholarship, Bren School, 2011- 2012