Alexis Gutierrez

DPhil in Geography and the Environment (SOGE) entitled: "Consumers and Environmental Labelling – What do they actually understand? A case study of the seafood industry"

What are you studying?

"I'm doing a DPhil in Geography and the Environment (SOGE)"

What's your research about?

"Consumers and Environmental Labelling – What do they actually understand? A case study of the seafood industry

Today, in some developed countries there is now a proliferation of certification schemes/eco-labels and growing acceptance of these schemes by retailers. This study will look at two case studies – the United States and the United Kingdom -- to understand the feedback loop between consumers and the fishing sector that has evolved over the last thirty years as a result of seafood eco-labelling.  Semi-structured interviews and surveys with consumers, retailers, non-governmental organizations, processors, government officials, and fisherman will be conducted to ascertain what consumers understand about seafood eco-labelling and what they respond to. While seafood eco-labelling studies have been conducted in the past using willingness to pay surveys, this study seeks to understand consumers’ perceptions of seafood eco-labelling and whether these labels empower consumers to consume sustainably. This study will provide recommendations to governments, industry and non-governmental organizations on what they can do to strengthen their efforts to use eco-labels to incentivize sustainable fisheries."

What's your background that led you to studying at Oxford?

"In addition to my studies, I also work for the NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) in Washington, DC. During my eight years at NMFS, I have served in several roles including as a Foreign Affairs Specialist working on treaties related to marine biodiversity and trade and environment issues such as shrimp-turtle and tuna-dolphin. For the last year three years, I have served as the lead for the U.S. government on international agreements for sea turtle conservation (InterAmerican Sea Turtle Convention and Indian Ocean Southeast Asia Marine Turtle MOU), as well as coordinating several domestic initiatives to reduce incidental capture of sea turtles in commercial fisheries.

Prior to coming to NOAA, I was a Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, where I completed an assessment of the linkages between development assistance and biological invasions in freshwater systems in Southeast Asia. I received a B.A. in International Studies (2003), with a minor in Environmental Studies, and a M.A. in International Relations/International Economics (2004) at the Johns Hopkins University."

What do you hope to do next, when you have finished your studies at Oxford?

"Upon completion of my studies, I will to return to NOAA Fisheries to continue to work on sustainable seafood issues."

What led you to choose Oxford?

"I wanted to be in a challenging and vibrant atmosphere that would push me to explore my field in new ways. The Environmental Change Institute in the School of Geography and Environment provided a dynamic place where I could study issues related to sustainable seafood consumption. My supervisor and I had a good rapport from our first meeting, so I was excited to work with him. I was also pleased that I was not going to have to repeat classwork from my M.A. course that I would have in other PhD programs. Finally, the independent/self-directed study at Oxford was just what I was looking for at this point in my career."

See Alexis's profile in our Food Research Network.


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