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Dr Pamela Buchan

Dr Pamela Buchan

Research Fellow



Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK


I have a varied academic and professional career history including marine biology, public engagement with science, volunteer management, coastal zone management, and marine social science research and consulting. I have served as an elected councillor in Plymouth City Council, and continue to contribute to public office as an MMO appointee and Vice Chair of the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. I've sat on a number of boards that work at the interface of the marine environment and the public, across a range of marine and non-marine sectors.

Broad research specialisms:

I am interested in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and practice related to the human-ocean relationship, including governance and decision making. My PhD research investigated marine citizenship through a range of disciplines including marine environmental science, human geography, environmental psychology and environmental law. Through this work, the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park has embedded marine citizenship as a key goal, and the Ocean Recovery Declaration has been developed as a vehicle for marine citizenship. My ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship further understanding of the concept of marine identity and supported impactful collaboration with the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. I am currently supporting the ROCC project.


  • PhD Environment, Energy and Resilience, University of Exeter (Thesis and easy access summary report)
  • MRes Environment, Energy and Resilience, University of Exeter
  • MSc Coastal Zone Management, University of Ulster
  • BSc (hons) Marine Biology, Newcastle University



Research Fellow, Exeter University (2023 - current)
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Exeter University (2022 - 2023)
Research Associate, 'Future of Boards' project, Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) (2022 - 2023)
Postgraduate Researcher, Exeter University (2016 - 2022)

Public office and responsibilities:

Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, Vice Chair (2021 - current)
Cattewater Harbour Commissioners, Port Duty Holder (2019 - current)
Plymouth City Council, Honicknowle Ward (2018 - 2022)

Select Publications:




Research group links

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Research interests

Humanity's relationship with the ocean: marine citizenship, marine identity, values and perceptions, pro-environmental behaviour, marine policy and governance.

Research projects

Project Title: The social impact of marine developments. Evidence review commissioned by The Crown Estate.

Project Title: Resilience of Coastal Communities, a Sustainable Managemnent of UK Marine Resources (SMMR) Project. Supporting this project as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

Project Title: Opportunities for improved social sustainability in marine governance.

Funding: University of Exeter's Open Innovation Platform Collaboration Fund, financed by Research England’s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).

Description: In response to the potential social impact of the rapidly changing marine agenda, the University of Exeter and the MMO collaborated on a knowledge exchange and translation project to examine the opportunities, barriers, and levers for change within England’s marine governance, with a focus on marine planning and social sustainability, as recognised in the MMO’s statutory purpose.

Project Title: International researcher-practitioner collaboration to co-produce conceptualisation of marine identities & put marine citizenship theory into practice.

Mentor: Prof. Patrick Devine-Wright

Funding: ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship

Project Description:
This project responds to Challenge 10 of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development : “Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean”.
The project includes:
1) A workshop with a network of international researchers and practitioners to: develop a conceptualisation of marine identities through diverse perspectives, knowledge, research and practice in global communities; interrogate relationships with marine citizenship and ocean literacy; and publish the findings to reach leading environmental researchers. The workshop has been endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade Action.
2) A collaboration with the UK’s first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound (PSNMP) to pilot methods of developing marine citizenship and marine identity through participation and impact.
The Fellowship will provide the foundations for the development of future research into marine citizenship and marine identities.

Research networks

Research grants

  • 2023 Higher Education Innovation Fund
    Title: Marine planning reform for better governance. Funder: Open Innovation Platform Collaboration Fund. This collaborative project aims to examine the potential for increased recognition of social impact of marine developments, and public participation in marine planning. This will be delivered as a workshop that will: 1) introduce social impact and participatory decision-making themes; and 2) collaboratively identify levers for improved recognition of social impact a) within the current marine planning framework and b) where regulatory revision is required for delivery. The audience for the workshop findings will include the wider MMO, relevant Government Departments (potentially DEFRA, BEIS, DHLUC), and the public. Outreach will primarily be done by the MMO, with support from the PI. The findings of the workshop will be developed into a report and/or policy brief, as appropriate, and disseminated within DEFRA and in public (as appropriate).
  • 2022 ESRC
    Grant No. ES/X006379/1

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Journal articles

Buchan PM, Evans LS, Barr S, Pieraccini M (2024). Thalassophilia and marine identity: Drivers of ‘thick’ marine citizenship. Journal of Environmental Management, 352, 120111-120111.
Evans LS, Buchan PM, Fortnam M, Honig M, Heaps L (2023). Corrigendum: Putting coastal communities at the center of a sustainable blue economy: a review of risks, opportunities, and strategies. Frontiers in Political Science, 5
Buchan P, Evans L, Pieraccini M, Barr S (2023). Marine citizenship: the right to participate in the transformation of the human-ocean relationship for sustainability. PLoS ONE Abstract.
Evans LS, Buchan PM, Fortnam M, Honig M, Heaps L (2023). Putting coastal communities at the center of a sustainable blue economy: a review of risks, opportunities, and strategies. Frontiers in Political Science, 4 Abstract.
Buchan PM, Yates KL (2019). Stakeholder dynamics, perceptions and representation in a regional coastal partnership. MARINE POLICY, 101, 125-136.  Author URL.


O’Halloran C, Patil B, Buchan PM, Bridge NL, Cunningham EG, Buchan PM, Bridge NL, Fleming LE, Patil B, Maycock B, et al (2023). Chapter 24 Oceans and human health stewardship, literacy, and citizenship. In  (Ed) Oceans and Human Health, Elsevier, 745-774.
Buchan P (2022). Transformation through participation: Democratising the human-ocean relationship. In Gómez S, Köpsel V (Eds.) Transdisciplinary Marine Research: Bridging Science and Society, New York: Routledge, 63-81. Abstract.


University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL, Buchan P, Day S, Drake L, Eteen E, Gajadhar S, Hurth V, Mocanu D, Secrett G, Ventura L, et al (2023). Future of Boards Foundation and Methodology (Phase 1, Part 1). Cambridge, UK, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL.
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) (2023). Future of Boards Phase 1: Part 2. Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Sustainability. Cambridge, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), Buchan P (2023). Future of Boards Phase 1: Part 3. Trends in board practice: Insights from our Initial Exploratory Research. Cambridge, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Abstract.
University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) (2023). Future of Boards Phase 1: Part 4. Business Briefing Final Report: Summary and Synthesis. Cambridge, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

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External Engagement and Impact

Advice to Government, Parliament, devolved and English regional administrations, other national, international, regional or local agencies; advice to non-government organisations and to private practice

  • Founder and co-author of the Ocean Recovery Declaration, advising local authorities across the UK on declaring and implementing the motion; engaging with a range of other stakeholders, e.g., the MMO, Natural England, Association of IFCAs, IFCAs, and NGOs.
  • Advisor to DEFRA: Ocean Literacy Working Group member; inshore fisheries and marine social science advisor.

Editorial responsibilities

The Place and Politics of Marine Governance

A new theme from the Royal Geographical Society journal Geo.

Led by: Pamela Buchan, Catherine QueenMargherita Pieraccini, Freya Croft, Aisling Lannin (Marine Management Organisation, UK) and Kira Gee

As the world embraces a technological drive to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a net zero economy, the marine environment is facing an unprecedented acceleration in industry, harnessing energy, and exploiting biological and mineral resources (Jouffray et al., 2020). Yet marine governance remains a complicated patchwork of scalar and siloed decision-making (Boyes and Elliott, 2014) and, despite the Rio Convention’s pillars of environmental participatory rights, coastal and marine decisions are often made without input from, nor sufficient consideration of, key interests and communities. This theme will develop debate around the complex, multiscalar impacts and relations associated with the rise of ‘blue’ industrial activities in marine environments.

First, the theme is keen to promote research that addresses the ways in which coastal communities experience and live with marine exploitation and governance as part of this ‘blue’ economic acceleration (Evans et al., 2023): for instance, the socio-material transformations involved and consequences on places, people and landscapes; questions around social justice and how benefits and burdens of these ‘climate positive’ industrial opportunities are (or might be) distributed. Secondly, we will explore urgent questions about the politics and regulatory structures of marine governance, looking across different scales and geographical contexts, addressing gaps and conflicts in current systems and raising questions about who has access to, and a voice in, decision-making. We also seek papers that explore and connect these dynamics of place and politics in the context of marine industrial acceleration.

We begin the theme with an open collection on ‘the geographies of marine management in a time of change’ and encourage submissions that relate to this collection or to the wider issues raised by the theme.  Contributions are sought from across disciplines, practitioners and others working on marine governance and its implications.

Competitively funded studentships and postdoctoral fellowships

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship 2022
  • ESRC 1+3 Studentship Environment, Energy & Resilience 2015

External positions

Keynote addresses or prestigious public lectures given in international forums

Major awards, Prizes and Honorary degrees, including election to national and international learned societies

ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2022 Winner: Outstanding Early Career Impact

Harnessing people’s passion for the ocean to protect the marine environment

Dr Buchan’s research into what promotes a willingness to preserve the marine environment has led to a range of initiatives by local authorities, conservation charities and marine organisations. These initiatives are changing people’s relationship with the ocean.

Other Consultancy (i.e. income generating work that is not research)

Marine Social Science research and evaluation for DEFRA, WWF, Ocean Conservation Trust, Coastal Partnerships Network.

Workshops organised

Marine planning reform for better governance (Jun 2023)

A University of Exeter and Marine Management Organisation collaborative project to exchange academic and practitioner evidence and knowledge around social impacts and governance of marine developments and planning. The project is funded by the Open Innovation Platform. The findings will be disseminated in a policy report.

Co-conceptualising marine identities (Nov 2022)

Transdsciplinary workshop for international marine researchers and practitioners to co-conceptualise marine identity as an academic concept. The workshop findings are presented in an academic publication submitted for peer review. The workshop is endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade, aligning with Challenge 10.

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How can we promote social transformation to tackle climate change? Geography department panel discussion (Exeter sign in required - Societies and events tab).

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