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Quantification of global impacts of static fishing gear using systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, September 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The use of static (passive) fishing gears is widespread around the globe. While static gear are considered more selective and less disturbing to marine environments than fishing gear such as bottom trawls, they are associated with their own unique environmental impacts. This PhD will use a systematic review methodology and meta-analysis techniques to quantify the global impacts of these static fishing gears. Systematic review methodology has its root in the medical science through the Cochrane Foundation. The technique is now used extensively as the basis to inform policy development in the UK and more widely in Europe. The technique avoids or highlights the issue of publication bias, and provides a repeatable methodology such that the evidence base can be updated in future years in a consistent manner.

Specifically, the PhD will focus on two key policy gaps: the causes of, and effective mitigations for, ghost-fishing gear and the ecosystem effects of static gear, taking account of bycatch, entanglement and seabed impacts. Both components will be similarly structured by identifying effects and effective/ineffective mitigations for these effects.

Ghost gear: There is increasing interested in understanding the causes and effects of ghost-fishing gear on the marine ecosystem. There will be two systematic reviews undertaken for this component, one to understand and quantify the effects of ghost-gear on biota and habitats. The second will evaluate the effectiveness of interventions (technological, management and governance) that reduce the likelihood of factors that cause ghost-gear occurrence.

Ecosystem effects: Static gear often are proposed as an alternative technique to trawling or other fishing gear methods. However, in order to evaluate the efficacy of using one technique over another, it is important to have a deeper understanding the range of different impacts and the potential for cumulative effects to occur. For example, while static gear have a small spatial footprint on the seabed compared to bottom trawls, often they are fished over ground inaccessible to trawls and encounter more sensitive habitat features for that reason.

The successful candidate will have strong credentials, ideally with a distinction at Masters level in a relevant degree, ideally marine biological, and a strong understanding of fisheries and conservation issues. Candidates will need to be pragmatic and have experience of working independently at sea if we incorporate any field work into the PhD. Candidates must be clear communicators who are able to rapidly appraise complex data from published papers, or use tact and networking skills to collaborate with data holders or providers

You will have a good understanding of R and ArcGIS statistical software. Experience of using questionnaire-based approaches is desirable. You will have to process and extract information from published papers in the primary and grey literature. You will need to have a methodological and precise approach to organizing data and sufficient drive to remain focused on the end goal.

Although this PhD is primarily focused on data acquisition and analysis of existing data, it is important that candidates acquire a first-hand appreciation of the fishing techniques in question. For that reason, candidates must have a valid UK driving license given that remote working may be required and must be physically capable of passing an ENG1 medical and survival at sea course. Candidates must be physically fit enough to work at sea such that they would pass an ENG1 sea-going medical and survival at sea training.

Given the nature of the PhD, experience of working with the fishing industry in collaborative programmes is highly desirable.

Professor Michel Kaiser is a recognised expert in understanding the ecosystem effects of fishing, particularly trawling, but also ghost gear impacts. Co-supervisors will be Dr Marija Sciberras (IMEDEA – CSIC Majorca), Dr David Donnan (Scottish Natural Heritage), Dr Eric Gilman (Hawai’i Pacific University); Dr Rory Crawford (RSPB) and Prof Jan Hiddink (Bangor University).

Please complete our online application form and select PhD Environment and include the project reference, title and supervisor on your application. Please also provide a supporting statement or cover letter, and a CV, degree certificates, academic transcripts and an academic reference. You may be invited to undertake an initial interview by Skype prior to shortlisting selected candidates.

Interviews are scheduled for the week commencing 14 October and the successful candidate is expected to take up their appointment on 6 January 2020.

Funding Notes

The PhD is fully funded with an annual stipend that is commensurate with the Research Councils UK level and is funded for 3.5 years. There is a supporting budget for travel. Any student with resident EEA status is eligible to apply.

The PhD is financially supported by internal funding and Young’s Seafood, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd and with the in-kind support of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

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