Born in Edinburgh, Fraser grew up in the UK and Malawi. Having completed both his BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology and an MSc in Tropical Coastal Management at Newcastle University, he departed for Papua New Guinea. During his three years working for the Wildlife Conservation Society in PNG, he helped establish a network of locally managed marine protected areas in New Ireland, a sustainable coral farming project on Andra Island and learned to chew betelnut without turning green. Supervised by Nick Graham, Joshua Cinner and Garry Russ, his PhD will see him return to some of the communities he has previously worked with in PNG; investigating the effects of traditional fishing and marine management on fish behaviour, and how this impinges on fishery and conservation goals..
The influence of fishing pressure and protection on the behaviour of coral reef fishes is currently underserved by research into the effects of marine protected areas and no-take zones. In parts of the South Pacific, “taming” of fishes through the use of periodic closures is considered to increase yields when the closure is harvested. Recent work has identified that fishes show greater flight initiation distance in fished areas as compared to protected areas, and that this may influence fishing success. With increasing pressure on coral reef fisheries as human populations on the coast increase, establishing the direct impacts of fishing on coral reef fish behaviour and how this may affect management is a necessity. The proposed research will investigate how fish behaviour changes with fishing pressure and temporal impacts of fishing events. It will further assess the contribution of behaviour to yield during harvest events in periodic closures, and if increased catch per unit effort that has been used to demonstrate spillover from marine protected areas is partially due to naivety of fish to fishing. The influence of life-history traits on flight initiation distance and behaviour will also be explored in the context of current vulnerability models. The results of this work will inform management options for subsistence and recreational coral reef fisheries.