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ALLSTAT  June 2018

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Subject:

Funded PhD opportunity: Models for the assessment of fish and scallops in the Clyde

From:

Alison Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Alison Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 1 Jun 2018 20:52:24 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (131 lines)

Hello Allstat,

Please find below a funded PhD project to be supervised in ourMarine and
Fisheries Modelling group by Dr Douglas Speirs ([log in to unmask])
and Professor Mike Heath([log in to unmask]), together with Dr Phil
Boulcott from Marine Scotland Science ([log in to unmask]).

Please contact any of the supervisors above for further details.

kind regards

Alison Gray, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of
Strathclyde

##############################################################################################################

Title: Models for the assessment of fish and scallops in the Clyde

Supervisors:

Dr D.C. Speirs (University of Strathclyde, [log in to unmask] )
Prof M.R. Heath (University of Strathclyde, [log in to unmask] )
Dr Phil Boulcott (Marine Scotland Science, [log in to unmask] )

Project Description:

This fully-funded studentship will remain open only until filled, and so
we recommend applying
immediately.

Mathematical models play a central role in determining the population
size of fish and other marine
organisms that are caught for human consumption. By statistically
fitting population models to annual
data on commercial catches, scientists are able to estimate the
abundance of stocks. This is known as
analytical stock assessment, and the results are essential in
determining whether fishing is
sustainable, or whether changes in fishing effort are required to ensure
that over-exploitation is avoided.
Typically, the difference equation models used require the ages of fish
in the catch to be known. Since
this information is very costly, it is only obtained for the largest
commercial stocks, for example North
Sea cod. Consequently many important fish stocks remain without standard
analytical stock
assessments. Other approaches are desperately needed.

In this project you will develop and test an assessment model that is
length-based rather than age-based.
By contrast to age data, information on the sizes of fish in the
population is much more readily
available, and scientific surveys routinely measure the lengths of the
fish they catch. The basic idea is
for a discrete time matrix model that yields annual updates of the
population length distribution. The
model will then be fitted to data on the total annual landings and,
optionally, discards (fish caught but
not landed) as well as length distributions provided by research vessel
survey samples. The use of
survey data rather than fishery catch data means that the new model will
not be restricted to those
species for which age-data or fishery catch-at-length data is available.
The parameter estimation will
use Bayesian inference through Hamiltonian Monte Carlo sampling.

You will apply the assessment model to fishery data for the Firth of
Clyde stocks of whiting, haddock,
cod, and scallops. The Clyde ecosystem has been heavily exploited (Heath
& Speirs 2012, Hunter,
Speirs & Heath 2015, 2016), but despite the fishery remaining
commercially important there are
currently no regular analytical assessments for any stocks. Your work
will therefore deliver key
information in identifying measures to improve sustainable harvests from
the region. You will have the
opportunity to spend time in the Fisheries Division of Marine Scotland
in Edinburgh in order to interact
directly with civil servants who are operationally responsible for
managing fisheries regulation in the
Clyde.

Applicants should have or expect to obtain a good honours degree (1,
2.1, or equivalent) in applied
mathematics, statistics, or a highly quantitative science. Experience of
numerical modelling and/or
programming in R would be highly beneficial. Some experience in
mathematical ecology/modelling is
desirable, but not essential.

If you are interested in this PhD project, then please contact one of
the supervisors by phone or email
to discuss it. Formal application is via the University of Strathclyde
postgraduate research application
process at

https://www.strath.ac.uk/studywithus/postgraduateresearch/howtoapply/

making sure that you clearly state your interest in this project with
these supervisors.


Funding Notes: The studentship covers UK/EU tuition fees and comes with
an annual tax-free stipend at the standard
UK rate.


References:

Heath, M.R., Speirs, D.C. (2012) Changes in species diversity and size
composition in the Firth of
Clyde demersal fish community (1927-2009). Proc. R. Soc. B 279, 543-552.

Hunter, A. Speirs, D.C., Heath, M.R. (2015) Fishery-induced changes to
age and length dependent
maturation schedules of three demersal fish species in the Firth of
Clyde. Fish. Res. 170, 14-23.

Hunter, A., Speirs, D.C., Heath, M.R. (2016) Investigating trends in the
growth parameters of five
demersal fish species in the Firth of Clyde and wider western shelf of
Scotland. Fish. Res. 177,71-81.

######################################################################################################################


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