Dr Phil Hollyman (British Antarctic Survey)
Dr Michelle Taylor (School of Life Sciences, University of Essex)
The commercial whelk fishery in the southern North Sea has expanded significantly over the last decade and is of significant economic importance to the region. While there is interest in maintaining or expanding the fishery sustainably, there is a lack of information regarding the organism’s life-history, population connectivity and key fishery and stock data, making informed management and recovery difficult. This project will look to address these data gaps and propose sustainable shellfish fishery management.
The overall aim of the PhD is to characterise the variation in maturation, catch rates and catchability, stock size and the habitat use of the common whelk within the southern North Sea. Life history and catch data will be used to examine population dynamics, fishery effort and harvest rates [1,2]. You will investigate current proxies for population structure looking at diet, temperature and habitat effects on growth using stable isotope analysis of shells and trace element analysis of statoliths [2,3], comparing this to emerging results in our lab on population genetic structure . You will investigate the effects of whelk behaviour across different habitats using underwater video on pots and from fisheries independent trials to understand catchability. You will explore the use of innovative technology in providing catch and return data to develop better stock models with a range of government stakeholders . This project provides ample fieldwork opportunities at sea with CASE partner Kent & Essex Inshore Fishing & Conservation Authority as well as opportunities to work with fisheries stakeholders in the industry and government to feed into policy [e.g. 5].
This project provides an outstanding opportunity for anyone interested in applied marine science with training and research experience from the supervisor team and their wider networks in animal physiology, population ecology and applied fisheries science leading to high employability benefits in a growing fisheries sector.
Candidates should have a background/suitable degree in biology, ecology, or marine policy. Experience working in the fisheries sector and working with stakeholders would be desirable. Candidates with experience or developing expertise in fieldwork, working on boats, with quantitative biology skills and ability to drive in the UK is desirable but not essential.