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PhD in Geographical & Earth Sciences: International labour migration and fair employment in the Scottish fishing industry

Project Description

Applications are invited for an ESRC-funded PhD studentship opportunity exploring the dynamics of international labour migration in the Scottish fishing industry. The studentship will be undertaken in collaboration with Scottish Government and is an opportunity made available through the Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme of the Scottish Graduate School for Social Science.

Drawing on academic and non-academic supervisory expertise, the student will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of marine policy, fisheries governance, international migration and political ecology.

The Scottish fisheries landscape has changed dramatically in the past two decades. The introduction of market-based management approaches to increase efficiency, profit and stock sustainability have had unintended consequences for the industry and people working in it. Almost a third of crew on Scottish fishing vessels are employed through agency contracts from outside the UK, with almost 20% coming from non-EEA countries (Marine Scotland, 2016). This project explores this developing trend through a detailed and systematic analysis of the dynamics of migrant labour on Scottish fishing vessels and what this means for the wellbeing of workers and the future of Scottish fisheries.

A key component of the studentship will be working in collaboration with researchers from Marine Scotland (Scottish Government) to explore the legal, economic and social relationships surrounding the recruitment of migrant fishers, working conditions and cultures on fishing vessels, remuneration differentials among crew and the wider impacts of this growing trend on coastal communities.

Understanding these dynamics makes an important global contribution to fisheries and environmental policy, and economic systems more widely, given the popularity of market-based management for fisheries and environmental governance.

The student will explore:

• The legal, economic and social relationships surrounding the recruitment and retainment of migrant fishers in the Scottish fishing industry
• The relational dynamics between different actors on the vessel and in the firm (e.g. crew and skippers; agency and share-based fishers; on-shore and off-shore)
• The perceptions, experiences and outcomes for migrant workers on Scottish fishing vessels regarding recruitment, working conditions, remuneration and rights
• The perceptions of Scottish fishing communities on migrant labour in the fishing fleet

While this sets out the vision for the project the student will be encouraged to take ownership of how it runs in detail (conceptually, methodologically, collaboratively). This opportunity would suit students with a background in qualitative social research (human geography, sociology, anthropology, environmental studies) with an interest in international migration, postcolonial studies, political ecology or critical environmental policy.

Through close collaboration with Scottish Government this project has the potential to shape policy outcomes related to the sustainable management of fisheries and marine environments, and contribute to better outcomes for migrant workers.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

• (If applying on a 1+3 basis) A good first degree (at least 2:1) in Geography, environmental studies/policy, anthropology or an equivalent social science subject
• (If applying on a +3 basis) Have a Masters degree that meets ESRC eligibility requirements for advanced research training, or equivalent professional experience
• Have a working knowledge of social-scientific research, through any disciplinary background, on matters of international migration, environmental policy and/or marine/coastal management
• Have a good grounding in, and ideally experience of using, quantitative and qualitative research methods
• Preference may be given to applicants who have prior experience of working collaboratively on projects related to environmental policy and/or marine or coastal management.

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Funding Notes

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.

The successful applicant will receive full funding to cover tuition fees for UK applicants for the entire studentship. This includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

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