[Coral-List] Temperate MPAs PhD opportunity for UK student

Nicholas Polunin N.Polunin at newcastle.ac.uk
Wed Apr 19 12:14:30 EDT 2006

NERC funded PhD studentship - University of Newcastle

Role of marine protected areas in fisheries science and coastal

Supervisors: Dr Selina Stead (Selina.stead at ncl.ac.uk) & Prof. Nick
Polunin (N.polunin at ncl.ac.uk)

You will be based in the School of Marine Science and Technology
(www.ncl.ac.uk/marine), a world-renowned hub of temperate and tropical
coastal resource management work. The research will involve extensive
ecological and social science based fieldwork and suit a PhD candidate
interested in applied interdisciplinary methods and analyses. Professor
Polunin and Dr Stead lead a research group of over 16 postgraduates and
post doctorates (www.ncl.ac.uk/fish). Newcastle is a great place to live
and was awarded the title of 'Top English City' in the 2004 Guardian
Travel awards.

Research project

In fisheries science and coastal management, research is often conducted
in parallel to formulation of policy (Stead
2005, 2006; Stead and McGlasghan, 2005). Fisheries management has
traditionally been dissociated from coastal
management, and this has exacerbated conflicts and maintained an
artificial stratification of existing natural and
social equilibria. Current thought is towards an integrated approach
where fisheries form part of a larger system and
economy, for example as in Ecosystem Based Management (Charles 2001).
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are being heralded by many as a means to
sustainable development of fisheries and marine environments, but
evidence is being systematically biased to establish the effectiveness
of MPAs as a marine management tool (Sale et al. 2005; Sweeting &
Polunin 2005). The proposed study will critically evaluate the use of
the term 'effectiveness' in contemporary debates on MPAs and explore
ways to reliably determine effectiveness of MPAs through case studies
where resource user conflicts is an issue in contested coastal spaces. A
growing management response to spatial conflicts is the designation of
fishery exclusion zones, where MPAs are gaining popularity as a
management tool. Such spatial restrictions exist at three major sites
off the Yorkshire coast and are called no-trawl areas (NTAs), where a
pot fishery for crabs and lobsters and a trawl fishery for demersal fish
overlap (Whitby, Filey and Hornsea). Conflict over the use of this area
has existed for decades, and over a relatively short length of coast,
compliance with the NTAs varies from very high to near zero (North
Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee, pers. comm.). The Yorkshire coast
provides an unstudied replicated 'natural experiment' in the success of
spatial restrictions as a means to fisheries and natural resource
management. This study for the first time will provide an integrated
assessment of the effectiveness of NTAs through (i) describing fishers'
behaviour in the NTAs and surrounding waters, (ii) investigate fishers'
perceptions and their fishing practices including catches in and around
the NTAs, (iii) compare condition of similar habitat between the NTAs
and surrounding waters, (iv) identify appropriate species and methods
which could be used to determine a reliable indicator for measuring the
effectiveness of small-scale MPAs and (v) build a conceptual model of
the effectiveness of NTAs in achieving different marine area management
outcomes, incorporating economic, social and environmental
considerations. The fisheries of the Yorkshire coast are managed by
DEFRA (Marine Fisheries Agency) and North East Sea Fisheries Committee
(NESFC) on which Dr Stead is a Ministerial appointee and
DEFRA Scientific Adviser since 2005. Like many around the EU, these
fisheries have suffered declines in catch, revenue, and employment
levels over the last 30 years (Rossiter and Stead, 2003). In Whitby and
Filey, the NTAs were designated to reduce trawler-potter conflicts
before the 1940s, while in Hornsea, the NTA was established in 1988 to
protect young lobsters. These NTAs are all governed through byelaws
enforced in a top-down manner by the NESFC, but compliance is variable
(NESFC, pers. comm.) and many factors including economics may contribute
to this unevenness. The Sustainable Marine Bioresources Priority of the
NERC is committed to development of an ecosystembased approach to
fishery management (EBAFM), but recognises this approach is not only
scientifically challenging, it requires stakeholder participation in
datagathering, policy formulation and implementation.

The student will early on identify existing sources of information, both
current and historical, the latter including
disparate sources which have a bearing on how the areas were established
and how they have fared since their
establishment. The student will describe fishers' behaviour by
undertaking a scoping study including interviews
with key informants, notably the fishers, other coastal resource users
and stakeholders, and NESFC officers. The
surveys will examine fishers' choices as to fishing locations, gears and
times. Independent assessments of fishers'
activities are needed to corroborate the former data and to determine
levels of compliance in the NTAs. Exploring
how best to achieve this will be an important part of the experimental
design, requiring an assessment of available
methods and sources of available information such as satellite and
overflight data, fisher's electronic chart records
and webcam-based monitoring of the areas involved. Catches will be
described by employing log book information from the fishers with
quality control established by direct observation of fishing and
landings by the student. Fishers' perceptions of catches, the NTA
environment and its resources will be analysed by the student using a
combination of techniques based on semistructured surveys that they will
devise. By collaboration with the NESFC over a 2005-06 survey of NTA
resources and combined with, where needed, additional habitat mapping
using acoustic and video techniques, and potentially using diver
surveys, the student will compare the condition of similar habitats
between the NTAs and surrounding waters in each of the three areas. This
will be with respect to dominant life forms, diversity indices and
abundance of visible large species. By drawing on information from a
range of disciplines, the student will derive conceptual models of how
each of the NTAs has achieved (i) its original goal with respect to
resource protection or conflict resolution and (ii) modern objectives of
marine area management including protection of fragile habitat and
biodiversity, and conservation of target resources. The student will
have substantial initiative, able to work independently and as part of a
team. The student will develop generic research skills through Newcastle
Faculty of Science Agriculture and Engineering Graduate School training
programme and discipline specific skills through work experience
(working with DEFRA through the NESFC), supervision (experimental
design, data processing and analysis, triangulation of disparate sources
of data and research-paper writing) and enrolment in specific taught
modules such as on survey techniques, statistical analyses for both
qualitative and quantitative datasets and modelling. Results of this
work should be publishable in good journals; the student will be
expected to take the lead in most if not all. The student is expected to
develop personal skills and knowledge that will equip them to contribute
objectively to ongoing debates between different interest groups over
the spatial planning of the North Sea.


Charles AT (2001) Sustainable Fishery Systems, 1st edition. Blackwell
Science Ltd.
Sale PF, Cowen RK, Danilowicz BS, Jones GP, Kritzer JP, Lindeman KC,
Planes S, Polunin NVC, Russ GR,
Sadovy YJ, Steneck RS (2005) Critical science gaps impede use of notake
fishery reserves. Trends in Ecology and
Evolution 20: 74-80
Stead SM (2005) Changes in Scottish coastal fishing communities
understanding socioeconomic dynamics to aid
management, planning and policy'. Ocean and Coastal Management. 48 (910)
Stead SM (2006) A comparative analysis of two forms of stakeholder
participation in European aquaculture
governance: selfregulation and integrated coastal zone management'. In
Gray, T.S. [ed] Participation in fisheries
governance. Dordrecht, Springer.
Rossiter, T.; and Stead, S.M. (2003) Days at sea: from the fishers'
mouths. Marine Policy 2003, 27, 281-288.
Stead SM, McGlasghan DJ (2005) A coastal and marine national park for
Scotland in partnership with Integrated
Coastal Zone Management' Ocean and Coastal Management 49: 22-41.
Sweeting CJ, Polunin NVC (2005) Marine Protected Areas for Management of
Temperate North Atlantic Fisheries:
Lessons learned in MPA use for sustainable fisheries exploitation and
stock recovery. DEFRA.

How to apply?

You should check your eligibility for a NERC studentship
(www.nerc.ac.uk/students/eligible) before you
apply. Please send an application, full CV and three referees (include
both email and telephone details) to
Mrs Ann Bridges, a.e.bridges at ncl.ac.uk no later than 27 April 2006. Your
covering letter of application
should explain (1) why you are suitable for the studentship, (2) how you
would approach the project, and
(3) how you would benefit from doing this PhD. Candidate shortlists will
be drawn up by 5 May 2006 and
interviews will be held on Wednesday 17 May 2006.

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