Dr Antony Knights (University of Plymouth, School of Biological and Marine Sciences)
Professor Gerd Masselink (University of Plymouth, School of Biological and Marine Sciences)
Dr Christopher Stokes (University of Plymouth, School of Biological and Marine Sciences)
Prof. Peter Britz (Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University)
Richard Clark (Wild Coast Abalone)
Dr Paul-Pierre Steyn (Nelson Mandela University)
Dr Niall Vine (Fort Hare University)
Dr Shaul Deyzel (South African Environmental Observation Network (NRF-SAEON))
In South Africa (SA) the wild abalone fishery (Haliotis midae), the most valuable fishery per unit harvest, has suffered extensive poaching since the 1990’s (10 times legal quota), causing stock collapse. The seeding and on-growing of farm-grown juvenile abalone into the wild, is seen as a feasible alternative sustainable fishery option in South Africa’s Eastern Cape (SAEC). Traditional approaches of seeding juvenile abalone from large aquaculture farms into existing wild populations are not deemed viable due to cost, with the seeding of small-farm grown larvae into the natural environment considered a possible solution. Understanding the efficacy of larval seeding for this wild ranching is significantly hampered by a lack of understanding of larval dispersal due to surf/ocean currents and associated population connectivity.
The student will develop/validate numerical model simulations of abalone larval transport by surfzone and ocean currents though SAEC to investigate local/regional population connectivity and examine efficacy of larval seeding. This process will involve extensive field data collection in SA including high-resolution coastal bathymetry (drone-based photogrammetry), hydrodynamic model validation (ocean/surfzone drifters), and involvement in ongoing nearshore larval monitoring and genetic analysis of wild/seeded abalone populations with project partners.
The student will be part of the Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG) and the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre (MBERC); two internationally-recognised groups of researchers, specialising in field studies and numerical modelling of coastal processes and marine ecology, resulting in organic transfer of data collection/analysis skills, and subject-specific knowledge. You will work within an established inter-disciplinary international consortium including ecologists, zoologists, fisheries and aquaculture experts from leading South African universities and industry. The successful candidate will gain advanced skills in multi-scale numerical modelling (XBeach/Deflt3D/OceanParcels), field data collection and lab taxonomy work. You will also spend a significant amount of time in South Africa, collecting/analysing data, and developing your knowledge and skills in ecology and wild ranching aquaculture techniques.
We are seeking a PhD candidate with a background in marine science, marine biology or coastal engineering, with strong numeracy, communication and inter-personal skills, and with a strong affinity for the marine environment. Numerical modelling expertise and fieldwork experience is highly desirable.