Dr Mahesh Poudyal, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
Dr Joanna Murray, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
Dr Matthew Bond, Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association.
Dr Donna Snellgrove, WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute
Ornamental fisheries has a global value of $15-20 billion pa and support some of the poorest communities around the world. If managed well, ornamental fisheries can provide livelihoods that have low environmental impact and promote the conservation of threatened habitats through disincentivising environmentally damaging income streams (S Zehev & Vera, 2015). The trade in marine ornamental fish is coming under ever greater scrutiny, with workshops planned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and growing interest in sustainable use of our oceans. With ornamental fisheries increasingly featuring on the CITES agenda, there is a need to better understand the ways sustainable ornamental fisheries could contribute to ecosystem conservation while enabling socio-economic development.
Student will work with fisher communities for extended periods in source countries (~6 months of total fieldwork time in each country, ~12 months overall), to understand environmental and socio-economic effects of marine ornamental fisheries. In the Philippines, the student will be hosted by colleagues at the School of Law at the University of Cebu. In Indonesia, the student will be hosted by Terengi, the Indonesian Coral Reef Foundation. These in country partners, along with the supervisory team will facilitate the student to address the following research objectives:
1. Determine extent to which communities rely on ornamental aquatics trade for their livelihoods.
2. Understand the availability of alternative livelihoods, the perception of alternatives, and their environmental impacts.
3. Using fisher knowledge, determine how reefs have changed over time, attitudes of fishers towards their own impacts and that of others, attitudes toward strategies that have been or could be used to mitigate negative impacts.
4. Using information from 1-3, supplemented with questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, determine impacts on communities of increased restrictions or bans, and availability of other alternative livelihoods that might mitigate these impacts.
The student will utilise social science techniques, such as participant observation, questionnaire surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews, to understand how people in source countries can impact or benefit reef environments. In the absence of long-term monitoring data on ecosystems utilised by ornamental fishers, use of established social science techniques will allow us to elicit local knowledge about the state and trend of these systems and understand the important role local communities play in the conservation of some of the most biodiverse and impacted habitats on the planet.
The candidate will benefit from the diverse supervisory team and three CASE partners; Roberts (wildlife trade), Poudyal (sustainable development), CEFAS (governmental research centre, trade), OATA (Industry standard setting body), MARS (multi-national, reef restoration). These case partners will provide supervisory support and additional funding to support in country field work which is integral to answering research questions above. During fieldwork, the student will be locally-supervised by a designated mentor from the hosting partner who will meet the student regularly, in addition to monthly online meetings with the Kent supervisory team.
They will have opportunities for independent travel, working with fishery communities for extended periods. Further, they will gain skills in methods related to questionnaire development (e.g. sensitive questioning technique, household livelihood activity surveys), undertaking semi-structured interviews, and socio-economic analysis.
We seek an enthusiastic individual with a degree in conservation, development studies, marine biology, or a relevant field. Prior experience with questionnaires and semi-structured interviews is desirable. The individual must be prepared to spend a significant amount of time in the field.