Dr. Sarah Foster

Program Leader, Project Seahorse

Research Associate, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, The University of British Columbia

Dr. Sarah Foster has been with the Project Seahorse team for 20+ years. Now as one of the three leaders, Sarah shares credit for its many successes, ranging from new marine protected areas in the Philippines to global constraints on marine fish exports.


Email: s.foster at oceans.ubc.ca

Phone: +1 604-827-5139

Twitter: @sjanefoster

Biography (PDF)

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

During her PhD research on bottom trawl fishing in Mexico, Sarah lived on board the vessels with local fishers for months a time, studying the bycatch of small fishes they obtained. This experience gave her a deep understanding of the ecological devastation of trawling, of fishers’ needs and difficulties, and of the management challenges associated with such fisheries. She is now engaged in research and consultation to create the base of information needed to convince the world to #EndBottomTrawling.

Sarah has worked extensively with the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), pioneering new approaches to regulating exports of marine fishes and addressing illegal trade in these species. In this capacity, she has written seminal briefings that have informed policy at the global level while also providing practical support on CITES implementation for a range of national governments. Her current work is directed at constraining illegal trade in species that are under CITES jurisdiction.

In her global work on fisheries and trade, Sarah draws strength and inspiration from her experience as National Manager of SeaChoice, Canada’s leading sustainable seafood watchdog. She was responsible for strategic planning, national co-ordination and all communications for this consortium of three non-governmental organizations (David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society and Ecology Action Centre) for three years.

With all her scholarly and applied conservation, Sarah is driven by a sense of urgency and a determination to make recommendations as soon as the evidence shows some direction. She publishes extensively in both primary and grey literature, using her knowledge to guide management and policy, and drawing her research ideas from practical needs in conservation. She has accrued tremendous international experience, having been involved in research, management and policy around the world, with particularly rich understanding of Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Sarah has an Hons BSc and MSc from Dalhousie University and a PhD from the University of British Columbia, both in Canada. She is the focal point for global trade for the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group, the global expert alliance for conservation of these fishes. Her work has been supported by a range of funding from private donors, non-governmental organizations, foundations, government and intergovernmental agencies.

[Updated 10 June 2022]

[Updated 22 October 2021]