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  Addressing the impact of the landings obligation on the fishers of Shetland

   Scottish Association for Marine Science

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  Dr S J Heymans, Dr Chevonne Angus  No more applications being accepted

About the Project

Research Question
How is the EU CPF landing obligation affecting the local fishers of Shetland? How will it change with Brexit?

The impact of the landings obligation on Shetland’s fishers will be studied using a regional food-web model of the area surrounding Shetland. This model will be created by combining the previous models of the North Sea and West of Scotland models (Alexander et al. 2015, Lynam and Mackinson 2015). The modelling framework that will be used is Ecopath with Ecosim ( The student will have to obtain and incorporate data from ICES and local fishers to adapt these models to the regional area on which many of Shetland’s fishers dependent. The student will need to adapt the existing models to take account of the phased implementation of the landings obligation, i.e. integrate the phased reduction in discards into the model and to address the impact of possible choke species (i.e. species for which the local fishers have no quota, but which they cannot avoid catching due to the mixed nature of the fisheries). The student will use this model to evaluate potential adaptive management principles and management strategies which could potentially be introduced to maximise the sustainability and economic benefit of fisheries under a post-Brexit situation (Gaichas et al. 2016, Punt et al. 2016).

Supervisory team
The student will be supervised by Dr Sheila JJ Heymans at SAMS UHI and Dr Chevonne Angus at NAFC UHI with the help of Dr Clive Fox at SAMS UHI.

Research Facilities and Environment
The student will be based at SAMS UHI who has a large PhD student populations of approximately 30 PhD students. SAMS provides a vibrant research environment and has an outstanding track record for postgraduate research training. The techniques needed will include mainly data analyses and modelling. The student will also spend some time at NAFC UHI for discussions with stakeholders and to understand the impact of choke species. The student will attend weekly team meetings, the SAMS PIE meetings, journal club, seminars and will be expected to discuss his/her own laboratory work in these settings. The student will also develop skills in manuscript writing and oral presentations through short courses delivered by the university. In addition there will be opportunities to attend relevant national and international conferences.

Informal project specific enquiries can be made to: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by the European Social Fund and Scottish Funding Council as part of Developing Scotland’s Workforce in the Scotland 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

The studentship covers fees at the Home/EU rate only, plus a stipend at the RCUK level, for a total of 42 months (including writing-up).

Funding is available for students worldwide, however non UK/EU students will be liable for the difference between home/EU and international fees.

Students must be domiciled in the Highlands and Islands transition region during the course of their study to be eligible for funding.


Alexander, K. A., J. J. Heymans, S. MaGill, M. Tomczak, S. Holmes, and T. A. Wilding. 2015. Investigating the recent decline in gadoid stocks in the west of Scotland shelf ecosystem using a food-web model. ICES Journal of Marine Science 72:436-449.

Gaichas, S., R. Seagraves, J. Coakley, G. DePiper, V. Guida, J. Hare, P. Rago, and M. Wilberg. 2016. A Framework for Incorporating Species, Fleet, Habitat, and Climate Interactions into Fishery Management. Frontiers in Marine Science 3.

Lynam, C. P., and S. Mackinson. 2015. How will fisheries management measures contribute towards the attainment of Good Environmental Status for the North Sea ecosystem? Global Ecology and Conservation 4:160-175.

Punt, A. E., D. S. Butterworth, C. L. de Moor, J. A. A. De Oliveira, and M. Haddon. 2016. Management strategy evaluation: best practices. Fish and Fisheries 17:303-334.