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Applications are now open for PhD studentships starting in October 2018. 

Please read the recruitment introduction for more information about eligibility, how to apply, and possibilities for further funding.

The deadline for applications is 8 January 2018.

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LORENZONI_UENV18EE - The future governance of ‘blue’ common pool resources: what do fisheries and ‘blue’ carbon have in common? (CASE studentship with Cefas)

Project description

Selected other project supervisors
Dr Tiziana Luisetti (Cefas)
Dr Angela Münch (Cefas)
Dr Martin Johnson (UEA)

The marine environment provides a range of common pool resources, including fisheries and ‘blue’ carbon. While fish biophysical functioning is well understood, and fisheries management and governance well established, there are still knowledge gaps on aspects of ‘blue’ carbon ecosystems, and limited research on its future governance. There are no international agreements safeguarding ‘blue’ carbon despite national and international interest (e.g. its potential contribution to climate change mitigation; its potential inclusion in national Natural Capital Accounts).

Following the UK vote to leave the EU, current fisheries policies will require some review. The aim of this project is to understand and relate the governance and management of fisheries, and ‘blue’ carbon, given the dynamic biophysical nature and the current conditions of geo-political uncertainty they both share.

The objective is to devise a more systematic approach to common pool resources internationally managed.

The research
The student will review existing work on fisheries functioning, governance and management practices, and on similar aspects related to ‘blue’ carbon, aiming to identify key biophysical and socio-economic factors affecting fisheries policy and management. This and subsequent phases of the research will be informed by consultation and discussion with relevant policy stakeholders in DEFRA, and associated agencies. A suitable case study will be identified (e.g. North and Baltic Seas).

Drawing upon existing fisheries models, policy projections (e.g. Brexit ‘models’), current understandings of carbon dynamics, and stakeholder and scientific expertise (through surveys, interviews, expert elicitations), the student will develop, test and analyze different plausible policy scenarios (applying qualitative and quantitative data and insights to scenarios formulation) on fisheries management in conditions of biophysical and future political uncertainty. These will be used to explore opportunities and challenges for the governance and management of existing and new ‘blue’ common pool resources.  

The student will benefit from the training offered by the EnvEast DTP, UEA, and the CASE partner, Cefas. This project would suit a researcher with a passion for understanding new and emerging governance issues, through close scrutiny of environmental management and politics. Suitable backgrounds include both natural and social sciences.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by EnvEast on 12/13 February 2018.

Selected candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. Ordinarily, EnvEast studentships are for 3.5 years, although longer awards may be made to applicants from quantitative disciplines who have limited experience in the environmental sciences, to allow them to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover tuition fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

This PhD studentship is expected to begin in September/October 2018. Both full-time and part-time study are possible (those planning to study part-time may wish to discuss this with the supervisor before applying).


  1. Luisetti, T., Andrews, J., Jackson, E., Palmieri, M.G., Sen, A., Paltriguera, L. (2015) Why value ‘blue carbon’? Chapter pp. 191-208 In: Turner R., Schaafsma M. (eds) Coastal Zones Ecosystem Services. Studies in Ecological Economics, vol 9. Springer, Cham,
  2. Thomas, S. (2014) Blue carbon: knowledge gaps, critical issues, and novel approaches. Ecological Economics, 107: 22-38.
  3. O’Neill, S.J., Osborn, T.J., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Watkinson, A. (2008) Using expert knowledge to assess uncertainties in future polar bear populations under climate change. J of Applied Ecology, 45(6):1649-1659.
  4. Hurić-Larsen, JF and Münch, A. (2016) Competition and Environmental Policy in the EU: Old Foes, New Friends? J Ind Compet Trade, 16:137–153.
  5. Jiao, N., Robinson, C., Azam, F., Thomas, H., Baltar, F., Dang, H., Hardman-Mountford, N. J., Johnson, M., Kirchman, D. L., Koch, B. P., Legendre, L., Li, C., Liu, J., Luo, T., Luo, Y., Mitra, A., Romanou, A., Tang, K., Wang, X., Zhang, C., Zhang, R. (2014) Mechanisms of microbial carbon sequestration in the ocean – future research directions. Biogeosciences, 11(19):5285-5306.