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(BBSRC DTP) Multi-omics Approach to Monitoring Marine Bycatch

Project Description

The sustainability of fish within Europe is becoming an increasing concern, with overfishing creating a depletion of fish stocks below maintainable limits. Numerous fish are caught as bycatch that cannot be used for human consumption, but many are currently discarded at sea so that they do not impact on the vessels’ total allowable catches. The reformed common fisheries policy, agreed in 2013, which states how, where and who can exploit fish to enable sustainable fishing, includes provisions for a landings obligation which will effectively ban the discarding at sea of TAC fish species. The catch will therefore need to be sorted to species level, separated into the wanted catch destined for the human consumption market, the unwanted catch of quota species that has to be retained onboard and landed, and the unwanted catch of non-quota species that can be discarded at sea. When the unwanted catch is lumped together as bulk it often decomposes, especially on long fishing trips, making them difficult to identify. Given that all catches of species under quota will be subtracted from the quota of those species there is need to develop methods to identify/verify the species in the catch when the catch is spoiled.

The new CFP also includes the application of legal minimum conservation reference sizes in order to prevent the smallest fish entering the human consumption market. If caught they will have to be utilized in some other way, such as for energy production, composting, silage and fish meal. In each case storage bins will be required at the quay to collect the discards and transport them for processing. Most of the commercial outlets who would convert the discards into usable products, e.g. fish meal, have indicated that they would need to know the source of the discards since they do not accept illegal, unreported and unregulated fish.

Working closely with both Cefas and the AHPA, the proposed project will explore the applications of new ‘omics’ methodologies, such as proteomics, as an alternative means to species identification (e.g., Harvey et al. 2018) as well as biological age estimation (e.g., Procopio et al. 2018). Ideally these methods would prove to be useful to trace the species from the processed product (fish meal) to cross check with skipper’s records and therefore monitoring/enforce the landing obligation, as well as to monitor the impacts on overfishing on population demography.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.13

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