Sheila JJ Heymans


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Research expertise

Prof Sheila JJ Heymans has been involved with environmental impacts of fisheries and ecosystem change for 20 years and has published > 40 peer-reviewed SIS publications on a variety of topics ranging from the ecosystem effects of fishing, indicators of ecosystem status, the reasons for species decline, historical reconstructions of ecosystems, to the impact of fishing subsidies on the North Sea ecosystem. She has a background in ecosystem modelling approaches such as Ecopath with Ecosim and Ecological Network Analysis and has used and taught both techniques extensively since 1993. Currently her main focus is the social, economic and ecological impacts of fishing in the world’s oceans and the resilience of these ecosystems to fishing and environmental changes. Her work experience includes historic reconstructions of ecosystems such as the Bird’s Head archipelago of Papua, Indonesia and the fisheries of Sierra Leone for the Sea Around Us Project (University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre), the 500 years of Newfoundland fisheries and the ecosystem of northern British Columbia (Coasts under Stress). While at the Fisheries Centre she also studied the decline of Steller sea lions in Alaska and prior to her tenure there she worked on the ecosystem interactions of the gramminoid marshes of the Everglades at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the University of Maryland. She is the secretary of the Ecopath Consortium Advisory Board, sits on the ICES Large Marine Ecosystems Working Group and the ICES Working Group on the ecosystem based management of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans (WGCOMEDA) and the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) where she leads the chapter on “Policy support tools and methodologies for scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services”. She teaches a CPD course in Ecopath with Ecosim each year in February/March. Her teaching commitments include running a MRes module on Advanced Modelling and she is the programme leader for the MRes in Ecosystem Based Marine Management at SAMS. She was the Head of the Ecology Department from 2013-2016, was the Theme Leader for the “People and the Sea” research theme until June 2013 and part of the 2013 REF preparation team for SAMS. She is currently the Head of the Science Department at SAMS and the Cluster Leader for the UHI cluster on Marine Science, Environmental Science and Engineering.

Services expertise

Current research projects

I am part of WP3 and 4 of the NERC marine ecosystem project (MERP), where we will be improving our Ecopath with Ecosim model of the west coast of Scotland and comparing it to other models of the same area.

As part of the NERC funded Lo-Rise project, run by Manchester University, we will be creating an Ecotracer model of the Irish Sea. This work is with a PhD student, Kieran Tierney, which I co-supervise with SUERC and the University of Glasgow.

I am also working on a project with the Kinneret Limnological Laboratory (DESSIM) on the ecosystem based management of the Israeli EEZ.


Past research projects

A small grant for the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) on using an Ecopath model of the Clyde for Ecosystem based management.

I was also involved with the FP7-project Knowseas that looks at the knowledge based sustainable management of Europe's Seas. For this project I was part of a case study on spatial management of fisheries and habitats on the west coast of Scotland.

For the Biomara project I looked at the impact of macroalgae extraction for biofuel with Shona Magill and my PhD student, Kyla Orr. 

I also worked on a GEF project on "Enhancing the use of Science in International Waters projects to improve project results".

Previous projects include: The impact of fishery subsidies on the North Sea ecosystem, and the paper is available here. The DeepFish project (Sustainable management of deep-water fisheries and their impact on marine biodiversity) run by the University of Plymouth on the impact of fishing on the deep sea ecosystem of the west coast of Scotland has just been completed, and the DeepFish report is now available - also in French and Spanish.

In 2009, I ran the EuroCoML project office for Bhavani Narayanawamy.

For the INCOFISH project I worked on policy explorations of the Northern Benguela ecosystems. INCOFISH has been recognised as a 'star' project by the EU.

In 2008, I ran the EurOceans summer school in modern methods for ecosystem modelling sponsored by Eur-Oceans, Quest and Oceans 2025 (30 June to 9 July 2008).

Frequent Journals

  1. Ecological Modelling

    ISSNs: 0304-3800


    Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 2.69 SJR 1.084 SNIP 1.088


  2. ICES Journal of Marine Science

    ISSNs: 1054-3139

    Oxford University Press

    Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 2.98 SJR 1.591 SNIP 1.245


  3. PLoS ONE

    ISSNs: 1932-6203

    Public Library of Science

    Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 3.01 SJR 1.164 SNIP 1.111


  4. Marine Policy

    ISSNs: 0308-597X

    Elsevier Limited

    Scopus rating (2017): CiteScore 2.52 SJR 1.109 SNIP 1.112


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  1. Sargassum Regional Conference

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

  2. Using ecosystem models for sustainable marine fisheries

    Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk

  3. NERC MERP kickoff meeting

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

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Related locations

ID: 11297