Leyla Knittweis holds a B.Sc. in Marine Biology (Swansea, UK), a M.Sc. in Coastal Management (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) and a Ph.D. in Biology (Bremen, Germany). Her M.Sc. thesis in coastal management was written at Anna University in Chennai (India). As part of her Ph.D., which focussed on the population dynamics of an exploited coral species and natural resource management, Dr Knittweis spent two years working as a researcher at Hasanuddin University in Makassar (Indonesia). After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Knittweis held a postdoc research post at the Centre for Marine Ecology in Bremen. She then acted as fisheries advisor for Government of Malta between 2008-2013, before becoming affiliated with the University of Malta.
Her research interests include fish biology, population dynamics, resource management and fisheries science, and she has participated in numerous international research projects. More recently these include the projects CREAM (ecosystem approach to fisheries management), GAP II (bridging the gap between scientists and fisheries stakeholders), MESMA (marine spatial planning), MAREA-MEDISEH (Mediterranean sensitive habitats), LIFE BaHAR for N2K (benthic habitat research for marine Natura 2000 site designation), MANTIS (Marine Protected Area networks towards sustainable fisheries in the central Mediterranean), and IDEM (implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to the deep Mediterranean Sea).
Dr. Knittweis has worked as scientific consultant for numerous clients including the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (DG MARE), the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. She has also worked for certification bodies assessing fisheries against the Marine Stewardship Council fisheries standards, including most recently fisheries in Iceland and the Adriatic Sea.
Dr. Knittweis has been a regular participant at expert working group meetings of the European Commission's Scientific Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) since 2009 and chaired the STECF expert working group assessing balance between fishing capacity and opportunities for the EU fishing fleet in 2014-2016. She is a permanent STECF Committee member since April 2016, and was appointed vice chair in July 2019.