Dr Elisa Capuzzo

Senior Marine Ecosystem Scientist

My current interest is in supporting the sustainable development of seaweed aquaculture in the UK and abroad. I am also interested in plankton ecology, environmental drivers of plankton communities, phytoplankton primary production and long-term changes in light climate of the seas around the UK.

I developed my interest in plankton ecology during my Bachelor and Master degrees in Environmental Science at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice (Italy). As part of my master thesis, I investigated the phytoplankton communities of the northern Adriatic Sea, in collaboration with the Italian CNR-ISMAR (Institute of Marine Science), while working part-time as phytoplankton analyst. For my PhD (at Napier Edinburgh University) I moved to Northern Ireland to measure and model the primary production of Carlingford Lough. During this time, I became familiar with the environmental conditions and plankton dynamics in the UK seas and developed my knowledge in primary production and underwater optics.

I have been working at Cefas since 2009, initially focusing on long-term changes in the light climate of the North Sea as well as investigating the causes and effects of the decline in phytoplankton production of the North Sea (see case study). Although retaining a strong interest in plankton, since 2012 my main area of work has been moving towards seaweed aquaculture. I have been leading multiple projects focusing on evaluating environmental effects of seaweed aquaculture, sites selection and coastal management for aquaculture, regulation and licensing process, feasibility study of seaweed aquaculture, stakeholder views, with focus in the UK and in the Philippines.

As part of my job, I regularly respond to advice requests on seaweed aquaculture from both government and the public and engage with different stakeholders in the aquaculture sector. I am the Cefas facilitator for the “Extractive species aquaculture” topic under the Food from Water theme. One of the best parts of my job is joining research surveys on the RV Cefas Endeavour. While at Cefas, I have been participating to over 30 surveys (fisheries, plankton, oceanographical, SmartBuoy service), and in recent years with the role of Scientist in Charge.



Google Scholar

Research Gate


Selected Publications:

  • Capuzzo E., Stephens D., Silva T., Barry J., Forster R. 2015. Decrease in water clarity of the southern and central North Sea during the 20th-century. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12854.
  • Capuzzo E., Lynam C., Barry J., Stephens D., Forster R., Greenwood N., McQuatters-Gollop A., Silva T., Leeuwen S., Engelhard G. 2017. A decline in primary production in the North Sea over 25 years, associated with reductions in zooplankton abundance and fish stock recruitment. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.13916
  • Capuzzo E., McKie T., 2016. Seaweed in the UK and abroad – status, products, limitations, gaps and Cefas role. Defra: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-seaweed-industry-in-the-uk-and-abroad
  • Capuzzo E., Mengo E., Kennerley A., 2019. Seaweed farming feasibility within the Dorset and East Devon FLAG area. European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) grant number ENG2805