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Fishing for Net Zero solutions: Using lessons from historical interactions of fisheries, technology and society to identify possible sustainable futures

   Energy and Environment Institute

  Dr Magnus Johnson  Friday, February 10, 2023  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD student to work with Dr. Magnus Johnson, Dr. Martin Wilcox and Professor Lewis Holloway on a project looking at the sustainable future of the fishing industry and coastal communities. This project is part of a PhD cluster on Sustainable Terrestrial and Maritime Food Systems: Environmental Technologies and their Implications The problems of fisheries management and survival of coastal settlements that identify as fishing towns/villages are intertwined and rooted in past ecologies and socio-economic contexts. Using available historical data of fisheries, demographic and local economic data from 1809 onwards this project will use a combination of multivariate and narrative techniques to identify temporal nodes and explanations for shifts in fisheries activities. In the past, key shifts in fisheries have been facilitated and forced by socio-economic and eco-environmental changes such as changes in fuel prices as well as technological advances (such as engine development, refrigeration technology, hydraulic technology and transport) that have altered fishing efficiencies and developed infrastructure to allow access to larger markets. This project will seek to use a historic understanding of the links between these changes and fisheries in modern times as fishing adapts to the need to decarbonise and adapt to power limitations caused by the need for increasing efficiency.

The successful student will benefit from joining a collaborative, multidisciplinary and nurturing environment, and will be provided with excellent opportunities for external networking. We will hold regular meetings with the entire cluster, with opportunities to present and discuss research, invite internal and external speakers and collaborators and foster networking.

For informal enquiries, please contact Magnus Johnson on

About the research cluster / about the research environment

Sustainable Terrestrial and Maritime Food Systems: Environmental Technologies and their Implications

This PhD project is part of a cluster of inter-related, inter-disciplinary projects, which between them focus on the implications of environmental technologies for the practices of people involved in primary food production on both land and sea. Our food and energy production systems contribute significantly to environmental problems, including climate change, and technological solutions are often proposed as ways of reducing their carbon footprints. Yet these can be challenging to implement and can have unanticipated effects on the practices of those engaged in farming and fishing. This cluster of projects involves a combination of scientific projects aiming to develop and test different environmental technologies, and social science projects aiming to look at the effects on the practices of primary food producers as society aims for a low carbon world. Specifically, the cluster will: 1. advance the development of two technologies for use in terrestrial food production and examine the implications of these for farmers, and 2. examine the effects on the small-scale fishing industry of high energy prices and large scale offshore wind deployment.

As part of a PhD cluster, in addition to becoming an expert in your own area you will join a collaborative, multidisciplinary and nurturing environment with other researchers around a common theme. You will be part of regular cluster meetings where you can present and discuss your research, as well as engaging with the wider community of postgraduate researchers in the university. You will have opportunities to build relationships with external stakeholders, and you will be supported in development towards your future career – whether that be within or without academia.


Dr Magnus Johnson

Prof. Lewis Holloway

Dr. Martin Wilcox

With advice from Prof. Susan Krumdeick, Heriot-Watt University

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full-time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

Eligibility and entry requirements

Applicants should have a minimum 2:1 degree. A taught Masters degree or Masters by Research in a relevant subject would be an advantage, but is not required. As this project is interdisciplinary, students can come from any relevant background: fisheries science, marine science, history, social science, ecology, environmental science, geography.

Candidates will be expected to have, or develop, skills in both qualitative and quantitative analysis; experience of some of GIS, quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis and using archives will be beneficial. The various backgrounds of the supervisory team means that specific training can be given as required by the successful candidate. While not essential, a knowledge of or background in fisheries or fishing would be advantageous.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a Home fee waiver only, which will not cover the full International fee. You will therefore need to pay the difference between the Home fee and the International fee and will need to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover this.

How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull webpage

Closing date for applications

10 February 2022

Funding Notes

• The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant / stipend for three years (full-time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 22/23 is £4596 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £17668 per annum.
• If you need to move into a fourth year (full-time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period and you will be required to pay a continuation fee.
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