Drury O'Neill





Profile summary

  • Small-scale fisheries & coastal livelihoods
  • Marine conservation & protected areas
  • Seafood value chains and trade
  • Marine social sciences
  • Survey design & execution
  • Behavioural experiments
  • Participatory methods

Liz Drury O’Neill is a marine social scientist researching coastal livelihoods, fishery markets and small-scale fishery governance with an interest in multidimensional human wellbeing.

Liz is currently finishing up involvement in two projects funded by the grant “Sustainability and resilience – Tackling consequences of climate and environmental changes” jointly financed by Formas, SIDA, VR and Forte.

The 1st project, OctoPINTS takes octopus fishery closures in the Indian Ocean as a casestudy of a rapidly spreading conservation initiative, aimed at supporting coastal peoples management of their natural resources. Driven by the questions- What is a successful intervention? For who, when and how? Combining agent-based models and qualitative fieldwork we explored compliance behaviour, wellbeing, social (in)equalities and social-ecological trade-offs in marine protected areas. Liz ran and facilitated fieldwork (in Zanzibar) and participatory workshops with multiple types of knowledge holders, exploring and developing the research questions with small-scale fishing communities, local NGOs, governmental actors, and academics.

The 2nd project, FoRel, is about understanding and exploring climate change through people’s daily practises and relationships on the tropical coastlines of the western Indian ocean (Kenya and Mozambique). The project looks at climate change challenges as entangled with other changes, both environmental and social. An important part of FoRel is using forum theatre, a type of participatory or community theatre. Theatre was used to look for obstacles or openings to possible change and collective action, it allows artificial separations such as natural/social; mind/body; rationality/emotions to be overcome and thus provides tools to capture the complexity of livelihoods. Liz supported FoRel through qualitative data analysis and project administration/organization.

In both projects Liz began story telling series, both written and audio, as a means to share voices directly from coastal Zanzibar and Kenya, for more see

Liz’s new project, starting early 2024, Patron of the Seas delves into social relationships in small-scale fishery settings (based in the Philippines), specifically patron-client relationships and the complex role they play in adaptation processes and the sustainable development of coastal livelihoods long-term. A gender lens throughout research allows examination of socio-institutional factors that shape differences in behaviour, relationships and adaptation processes- making work sensitive to the social differences and inequalities that impact the complex role patronage has in the governance of small-scale fisheries.

She is also involved in the Formas funded communications project One Connected Ocean and a part of the SES-LINK research group which studies the co-evolutionary dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES).

Liz holds a PhD in Sustainability Science from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, her thesis “Catching values of small-scale fisheries: A look at markets, trade relations and fisher behaviour”, based in Zanzibar and the Philippines, explored small-scale fisheries trade, markets and the accompanying relationships- particularly gender roles and patronage in seafood value chains. This work was part of the STEP (Seafood Trade, Ecosystems & People) SIDA funded project. Liz has an Honours degree in Marine Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Masters in Marine Biology from the University of the Algarve in Faro, Portugal.

For more information on Liz and her work see

Publications by Drury O'Neill, Elizabeth