Emma Verling
Research Fellow
UCC Blue Economy Coastal & Marine Systems


Emma is a graduate of UCC (BSc, PhD) and is a Research Fellow at MaREI. She has a background in Marine Ecology and Marine Policy and spent much of her career working in research and policy settings in the USA and the UK. Currently, Emma is co-ordinating the Marine SABRES project, which aims to improve the uptake of Ecosystem-Based Management and strengthen interventions and measures for the protection and conservation of coastal and marine areas.


Emma is currently coordinating the Marine SABRES a four-year, Horizon Europe funded project, which will co-design and test a Simple Social Ecological Systems approach (the Simple SES) to rapidly enable and upscale Ecosystem Based Management across Europe and beyond. Marine SABRES is a consortium of 22 partners from 11 countries across Europe working to set European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline by integrating sustainable ecosystems and a resilient blue economy. The project also aims to enable managers to make sustainable decisions, empower citizens to engage with marine biodiversity conservation and promote sustainable development and in coastal and marine sectors. 


Emma’s background is in Marine Ecology and she holds a BSc and a PhD from University College Cork. Following her doctoral work, she spent three years as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC working on the management of Non-Indigenous Species transfer via the shipping industry. She subsequently went on to spend ten years working in the Marine Team at JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), the statutory nature conservation advisor to the UK Government. During that time, she specialised in developing the science to advise on the implementation of EU directives in the UK, in particular the Habitats Directive. This included technical work to identify offshore Special Areas of Conservation, the completion of Favourable Conservation Status assessments for marine habitats and the analysis of habitat data to create habitat maps for the UK waters. Laterally her work at JNCC focused on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, for which she worked closely with the research and statutory community in the UK in the development of monitoring advice for UK government. Since joining MaREI, Emma has managed the European Commission funded RAGES (Risk Based Approaches to Good Environmental Status) project. She was also responsible for the development of technical work within the project in relation to underwater noise (Descriptor 11 of the MSFD). She led the work within the project to develop ways in which Risk-Based Approaches can be effectively used to consider the impacts of continuous underwater noise in European waters. Emma has also worked on both the IMPACT and SAFEWave projects, focussing on the potential environmental impacts of wave energy converters as well as the use of Risk-based approaches in the consenting process for such devices. She also spent a year working with the Dingle Peninsula 2030 project team, helping to create a more sustainable future for the Dingle Peninsula, both environmentally and economically and focussing on the transition to a low-carbon society.


Feature Project


Marine SABRES will co-design a Simple Social Ecological Systems approach to rapidly enable and upscale EBM across Europe and abroad.

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Feature Project


A-A Agora is structured to support the ambitious targets set in the European Commission Mission to “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”.

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