Scientific Committee/Speaker

Anita Franco, Independent Ecological Consultant, UK
Anita Franco

Anita is an Estuarine & Marine Ecologist, with specialist expertise on estuarine and marine fish communities, including their structure and functioning, their status and distribution in relation with habitat characteristics and human pressures, their monitoring and ecological assessment. She is also a quantitative ecologist, with expertise on experimental/sampling strategies and design, statistical analysis and modelling of ecological data.

Anita has obtained her PhD degree in Environmental Sciences (2004) and undertaken post-doctoral research at the University of Venice (Italy; 2004-2010) by studying fish assemblages in coastal lagoons and estuaries and their use as indicators of ecological status/health. In 2011, she moved to the UK, where she was employed as Senior Fish and Numerical Ecologist at the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (IECS) at the University of Hull (2011-2019), and now she works as an independent ecological consultant.

Anita has provided scientific and technical advice to the UK Government and its statutory agencies (e.g. Defra, Natural England, Environment Agency, Marine Management Organisation, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Scottish Natural Heritage), the industry and developers (e.g. Associated British Ports, E.ON, SSE, RWE npower, Oil & Gas UK, Able UK) on the status and condition of marine and estuarine ecological features of interest (including coastal lagoons, fish and shellfish and their essential habitats, fishery, benthic fauna and birds), on the ecological value of marine habitats in support of marine planning programmes and on the potential risks and impacts to the marine environment of a range of human activities, including offshore wind farms, port developments, gas storage facilities, etc. Anita has also been involved in EU projects, including the current Horizon 2020 project CERES (Climate change and European aquatic RESources) and FP7 projects DEVOTES (Developing innovative tools to understand marine biodiversity and good environmental status), TIDE (Tidal River Development), and WISER (Water bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery). She is currently undertaking (and co-managing) a project aimed at developing a more efficient and streamlined method of holistically assessing and reporting on the state of the marine environment, by reviewing and assessing the capacity of existing models and methods to produce integrated assessments of the status and health of marine ecosystems (in particular for habitats), to address multiple national and international environmental policy commitments, and to forecast and predict changes due to variations of environmental conditions or management practices.

Anita has published her research in peer reviewed international journals and books, and has presented it to a variety of audiences at international conferences, meetings, stakeholder events, etc. She has substantial experience in peer reviewing manuscripts for international journals, is an Associate Editor of Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Sciences and an elected council member of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA).

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Supporting Publications
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  • Elsevier
  • ECSA