Eric Wade, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Department of Coastal Studies, ECU

Office: Room No. 324
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981

Phone: 252-475-5429
Fax: 252-475-3545


Dr. Eric Wade is a marine social scientist currently an assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Studies at East Carolina University. From Belize, his research and teaching program is motivated by his lived experiences growing up in the Caribbean and the region’s increasing vulnerability to global environmental and social change. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Master’s in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University. Eric has previously worked for the Belize Fisheries Department, Oceana Belize, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Behavioral & Social Insights for Global Fisheries Research Group

  • 2018 – 2021    Ph.D., Fisheries Science, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University
    • Dissertation Title: Decision-making under uncertainty: Exploring risky fishing strategy decisions in small-scale fisheries in Jamaica
  • 2016 – 2018    MS, Fisheries Science, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University
    • Thesis Title: Assessing shared knowledge across stakeholders in response to the implementation of Belize’s Managed Access Program     
  • 2011 – 2013     BS, Marine Biology, Department of Biology & Marine Biology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Research Interests

The scholarship of the Behavioral Insights group is broadly influenced by theories from behavioral economics, social psychology, anthropology, and sociology. We explore these theories in marine and coastal systems. In addition to exploring the drivers and feedbacks of individual and collective decisions, I am also interested in how stakeholders are adapting to socio-ecological change. At the same time, our research also aims to understand the influence of formal and informal institutions on how stakeholders navigate coastal and marine systems. The scholarship and outreach of our research group are committed to producing actionable science that not only contributes to furthering our understanding of theoretical ideas but that supports the development of my communities.

Research Themes
  • Livelihoods & adaptation to change
  • Fisheries governance
    • Property rights & the State
  • Conservation psychology
  • Environmental decision making
  • Conservation as development
    • Marine conservation
    • Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Colonialism
    • Resource use, development, and conservation
    • Science – policy – practice interface
  • Social science research methods
Recent/ Current Projects
  1. Decision-making under risk and uncertainty in small-scale fisheries in Jamaica
  2. Power of the pen: constructing social-ecological narratives of coral reefs in news media and links to policy action
  3. Assessing the Readiness of WECAFC Member States’ Readiness to Implement the Regional Plan of Action to Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing
  4. Assessing shared knowledge across stakeholders in response to the implementation of Belize’s Managed Access Program
  5. Measuring organizational sense of place for marine conservation in Bocas del Toro, Panama


  • Fleming W, King B, Robinson K, Wade E, Erickson B, Delie J, et al. (2022) Is there no “I” in team? Potential bias in key informant interviews when asking individuals to represent a collective perspective. PLoS ONE 17(1): e0261452.


  • Wade, E. and K. Biedenweg. (2019). Using Mental Models as a Method to Systematically Assess Perspectives in Resource Management. Gulf and Caribbean Research. 30(1): GCFI1-GCFI17.
  • Wade, E., & Biedenweg, K. (2019). Exploring the diversity of mental models associated with Belize’s Managed Access Fisheries Policy. Ocean & Coastal Management, 178, 104868. doi:
  • Wade, E., Spalding, A. K., & Biedenweg, K. (2019). Integrating property rights into fisheries management: The case of Belize’s journey to managed access. Marine Policy, 108, 103631. doi:

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.



Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.