Carl O’Brien

Chief Advisor Marine Fisheries

Dr Carl M. O’Brien CBE

Carl is Defra Chief Fisheries Science Adviser, UK Delegate to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Chair of the ICES’ Awards Committee and was an ICES’ Vice-President (elected in 2017 for 2018-2020) serving on the Bureau which acts as the Executive Committee of the ICES’ Council.

Carl received the award of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2017 in recognition of his services to the management of internationally-shared fisheries.

He joined Cefas in 1995, researching the modelling challenges of fish stock assessment, management and advice.  Before Cefas, his career as a statistician included modelling multi-component radioactive decay processes, determining 3-dimensional crystal structures, developing commercial numerical software packages (GLIM and GLIMPSE) and modelling the phenology of tropical trees; the latter whilst working in the Brazilian Amazon for nearly four years.

He was the Algorithms Editor of Applied Statistics (1990-1997) and subsequently, an Associate Editor for the Royal Statistical Society, London.  He was the Joint Buckland Professor for 2015 on the theme: Securing the supply of food from marine fisheries, lecturing on the topic: Future fisheries management & governance in the EU.

Within ICES’ science and advisory communities, he has been Chair of the Resource Management Committee (2001-2004), a member of the Consultative Committee (2001-2004) and the Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (2001-2006).  He has Chaired many ICES’ science groups; most recently, the decade of annual WKLIFE meetings.  Since 2012 he has pioneered approaches for data-limited stocks and the development of maximum sustainable yield reference point proxies – emphasising the provision of fisheries management advice.  Carl was appointed ICES’ Advisory Committee (ACOM) Vice-chair (fisheries portfolio) for four years until December 2012, at which time he became the UK Member of ACOM until December 2015 and subsequently, has remained UK Alternate Member of ACOM.

Carl held the position of Science Leader - Resource Management (2005-2007) – a role in which he led on the direction and quality of Cefas’ science in the areas of environment and fisheries management; and was appointed Fisheries Division Director in 2007 until 2010. 


Selected publications:

Pires-O’Brien, M.J. and O’Brien C.M. (1995). Ecologia e Modelamento de Florestas Tropicais. FCAP: Belém, Pará, 400p. ISBN 85-7295-0006-0.

O’Brien, C.M., Fox, C.J., Planque, B. and Casey, J. (2000). Climate variability and North Sea cod.  Nature, 404:142.

O’Brien, C.M. (2016).  Management: New approaches to old problems.  In Fish Reproductive Biology: Implications for assessment and management, eds. T. Jakobsen, M.U. Fogarty, B.A. Megrey and E. Moksness, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. Second edition.