Xavier Nelson-Rowntree

MA, Marine and Environmental Affairs, French
Xavier Nelson-Rowntree smiles in front of a lush green field, with green hills in the background.


Originally from Toronto, Canada, I completed my undergraduate degree at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. My past experience was focused on projects in marine ecology and conservation as I worked in Southern California Fisheries management and kelp forest/ intertidal restoration. Now, I am a second-year Master’s student at the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs with a focus on the intersection of marine science with ocean law and policy.

Currently, I work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). My research aims to improve the capacity of governments and the fisheries sector to conserve marine biodiversity through the use of “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs). The role of my capstone is to help countries meet their own sustainability goals while keeping their commitments to conserving biodiversity through the use of area-based management tools.

Canada was one of the first countries to rapidly implement OECM protocols as a result of the Center for Biological Diversity initiatives. These steps towards MPA commitment measures have been deemed as commendable progress towards the sustainability goals, but they are also fraught with many vulnerabilities. My research project will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s OECM approach and make recommendations consistent with the FAO capstone outline.

I want to commit to fluency in French since it is an official language of the two institutions that I am actively engaging with in my research. As such, I hope that fluency in French will also improve my approachability as a global advocate for sustainable resource planning and would act as a big step towards my goals of global professional development.