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PhD The effect of mobile bottom fishing on Isle of Man seabed blue carbon – Bangor University

 Supervisor: Dr J Hiddink Monday,

Deadline: April 03, 2023

Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Start date 1 June 2023 or as soon as possible after that.

Seabed sediments have large stores of ‘blue carbon’. Bottom-trawl fishing provides a ¼ of global seafood, but is also the most extensive anthropogenic physical disturbance to seabed sediments. Available evidence suggests that trawling disturbance results in greenhouse gas (GHG) release from the seabed, but the impact is currently unquantified and unregulated. Multi-disciplinary science is urgently needed to help quantify how bottom trawling modifies carbon cycles and sediment-water GHG exchange, and to understand the role of the seabed to climate mitigation and to achieving net-zero emissions. Global governments need facts to decide how to combat climate change and an improved understanding of how seabed disturbance affects carbon storage is needed without delay. This PhD will provide an assessment of trawling impacts on carbon dynamics in the Territorial Sea of the Isle of Man. The project will address topics from pure science to more policy-focused research.

The overall scientific question that this PhD aims to answer is how towed bottom fishing gears affect the carbon stocks in the seabed of the Isle of Man, with a focus on otter trawling for Nephrops on muddy seabeds. The student will integrate the disciplines of sediment biogeochemistry, marine ecology and fisheries science to address the question.

The project will 1) quantify the change in seabed carbon as a result of Nephrops otter trawl fisheries, 2) evaluate the influence of seabed fauna on seabed organic carbon sources and stocks and 3) monitor any change in the nature of seabed carbon after protection from trawling in a newly closed area. The results of these investigations will be used to develop a model that illustrates the consequences of trawling and benthic invertebrate activity on seabed carbon stocks. The outcome will be used to evaluate which management interventions would have the most beneficial effect on seabed sediment carbon stores.

This challenging project combines ship-based offshore sampling, mesocosm experiments, laboratory analyses of organic carbon, dry bulk density and ecosystem modelling. The project would suit a student with an interest in biogeochemistry, marine ecology, fisheries and/or modelling.

In addition to opportunities through the Bangor Doctoral School, the successful candidate will receive training in benthic taxonomy, sampling techniques, sediment biogeochemistry and statistical approaches. There will be opportunities to engage with industry and government agencies through the network of partners.

PhD here

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