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Marine Protected Areas and Brexit – Navigating Complexity and Securing Reforms for Sustainable Marine Systems

Project Description

The UK departure from European Union dominates the headlines and political discourse in the UK. The impacts and merits of departure are constantly debated across multiple domains and sectors with a consistent undercurrent of ‘what are the impacts of leaving the EU and what are the opportunities for reform during and after departure’. Fisheries formed a central component in the debate concerning Brexit, with the coalition of leave supporters claiming that fisheries management would be improved in terms of leaving the (reformed) Common Fisheries Policy. While the debates around fishing (at least initially) had some legitimacy in the public domain the broader issue of marine environmental protection has been less subject to public debate and examination. This is problematic in the formulation of marine policy during Brexit and post Brexit, particularly in the context of the sustainable use, management and protection of marine systems of the fishing forms an integral part and relies on healthy marine systems.

Brexit has major implications for marine protected area designation and management in the UK and across the UK devolved nations. Marine conservation is a shared responsibility between the EU and member states, with the EU setting policy under the Habitats Directive, Birds Directive and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Under the Directive, the UK, and devolved administrations, designate and manage a range of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protected Areas. These marine and coastal sites form the backbone of the UK protected area network and are complimented by a range of national and local designations including Nature Conservation MPAs (Scotland) and Marine Conservation Zones (England).

This PhD project will examine in detail the consequences of Brexit for marine protected areas in the UK. It will explore how marine conservation is being framed during the negotiation process; the implications for management of the existing MPA network post Brexit; and the opportunities for reform to MPA governance in the future. Research questions include:
• How has marine conservation and protected area management been framed during the Brexit referendum and consequent negotiation process;
• What are the current policy options, debates and trajectories for the status of European sites in the UK;
• What options exist for reform of marine protected area designation and management including incorporation of ecosystem services; new sites and community engagement?
• What are the implications for marine industries such as fisheries, offshore wind and marine tourism?

The successful candidate will have or expect to have a UK Honours Degree at 2.1 (or equivalent) in Environmental geography, marine (social) science, environmental governance, policy or political economy, environmental law.

The student should have knowledge of Marine protected areas, environmental politics, marine planning, UK and EU environmental policy.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geography. Formal applications can be completed online: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgap/login.php You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr T Potts () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter and to discuss potential project proposal development.. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ().

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only

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