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Understanding the consequences of scallop dredging in relation to seabed habitat types, conservation features and other industry sectors

Project Description

This PhD will look at both broad scale and regional issues associated with scallop dredge fisheries in the UK. At the broad scale, the PhD will examine the current footprint of the UK scallop fleet in relation to seabed habitats and determine the status of these habitats as a result of their exposure to scallop dredging. By mapping the recoverability of these habitats we will be able to inform the development of a management plan that takes account of the wider ecosystem effects of the fishery. This work will feed into a fishery improvement project for these fisheries. At a regional scale, the PhD will take a deeper dive into a data-poor area dominated by the small-scale sector and will aim to utilize alternative sources of data such as local ecological knowledge to determine (on top of existing data) the extent to which scallop fishing overlaps with different habitat types and the extent of interaction with different types of fishing gears.

We seek a PhD student with the necessary skills to undertake this exciting project which is supported by fishing industries and non-governmental bodies. The successful applicant will have a broad range of skills, highly numerate, yet able to get along with fishers in a way that is sensitive concerns and confidentiality. The PhD will involve extensive use of R, ArcGIS and the collection of local ecological knowledge regarding target species (scallops, Nephrops etc) and seabed features, tapping into the knowledge of fishing industry and nature conservation experts. Drop down video photogrammetry will be used to ground-truth this information.

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. Given the nature of the PhD, the candidate must be a clear communicator who is able to rapidly engender trust in stakeholders, and hence will have a mature and tactful nature.

You will have a good understanding of ArcGIS and will have a demonstrable ability to use R statistical software. Experience of using social science approaches to gather local ecological knowledge or other questionnaire-based approaches is desirable.

Candidates must have a valid UK driving license given that extensive remote working will 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.

The student will have a large supervisory team, but must be based at Heriot-Watt University under the lead supervision of Prof Michel Kaiser. Other supervisors include: Dr David Donnan (Scottish Natural Heritage), Dr Lynda Blackadder (Marine Scotland Science), Dr Bryce Stewart (University of York) and Prof Jan Hiddink and Dr Jenny Shepperson (Bangor University), Dr Mike Bell (Heriot-Watt University, Orkney campus).

The student will also benefit from guidance from a steering committee composed of Fishmonger’s Hall, Macduff Shellfish, SWFPA, SWFPO, Open Seas and static gear and handing diving representatives and Marine Scotland.

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, 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.

Please contact Professor Michel Kaiser () for further information or informal discussions.

Interviews are scheduled for the week commencing 14 October and successful candidates are 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 substantial supporting budget for travel and subsistence and equipment (underwater drop down cameras). Any student with resident EEA status is eligible to apply.

The PhD is financially supported by The Fishmonger’s Company, Macduff Shellfish Ltd, the Scottish White Fish Producer Association Ltd and the Southwest Fish Producer Organisation Ltd.

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