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PhD Studentship: Sustainability and Resilience of the UK Fishing Fleet

University of East Anglia

Full time

Primary supervisor: Prof. Corrado Di Maria (University of East Anglia)

Second supervisor: Dr Gaetano Grilli (University of East Anglia)

University: University of East Anglia, Department of Economics

SENSS Theme:  Sustainability and Climate Emergency

Collaborative partner: CEFAS, Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Collaborative partner supervisor: Dr. Angela Muench

Collaborative partner: Seafish

Collaborative partner supervisor: Ms Arina Motova-Surmava

Degree structure: The structure of the studentship offered will depend on your personal training needs. However, the minimum duration of a SENSS-funded studentship will be 3.5 years: this covers a PhD and a mandatory placement of approximately 3 months. The maximum duration of a studentship will be 4.5 years: this covers a Masters degree followed by a PhD, as well as the mandatory 3-month placement.

Project background

The UK Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan sets ‘using resources from nature more sustainably and efficiently’ as one of its high-priority objectives, yet in 2022 the majority of the fish stocks in the UK were either overfished or in critical conditions. Fishery management in the UK needs to go beyond the traditional stock management concerns, to also include the economic and social sustainability of the whole fishery system. Answering this challenge requires a multidisciplinary approach that identifies the optimal size of the fishing fleet and the fishing effort, as well as the level of the catch that is consistent with the long-run viability of the fish stocks.

Project aims and objectives

This PhD project aims to contribute to this emerging approach by developing novel analytical tools geared towards the assessment of the biological, economic and social sustainability of the fishing industry. Building on the long-standing collaboration between the UEA and CEFAS, this project brings together economics, productivity analysis, fishery management, business insights, and data science to develop advanced models of the UK fishing fleet, and feeds directly into topical policy discussions.

Working with experts in economics, data science, fisheries management and biology, you will combine the biological information on fish stock assessment over time held by CEFAS, the rich data on input costs, vessel characteristics and performance from the Seafish’s Annual Fleet Survey and the most recent methods in productivity analysis to estimate production frontiers for a range of fisheries around the United Kingdom. In the second part of your work, you will demonstrate the broad applicability of these analytical tools by estimating the impact of offshore wind farms development on fishing fleets or by identifying the fisheries most at risk from the environmental changes brought about by global heating.

This research has the potential to directly feed into policy discussions, for example, by providing clear guidance to policymakers to target specific fisheries or fleet segments with selective interventions aimed at improving their overall performance or to support specific goals. The student’s placement within CEFAS offers you a unique opportunity learn unique skills at the interface of research and policy.

Training opportunities

The successful candidate will be hosted at the School of Economics at UEA, joining the thriving doctoral programme hosted by the School. To supplement their skills in economics and econometrics, the successful candidate will attend the rigorous PhD training offered by the School of Economics and will have access to the training program offered by SeNSS.

In view of the multidisciplinary nature of the studentship, the successful candidate will also have access to courses across the School of Environmental Sciences and the Norwich Business School at the UEA to develop their background in fishery management and biology as needed.

Essential and/or desirable attributes/skills

  • Prior qualifications:  desirable - MSc in Economics, Econometrics or similar (2.1 or above, or equivalent);

  • Prior skills: desirable – data science; ability of working in Stata and/or R; Geographical Information Systems.

  • Prior knowledge: desirable - demonstrable knowledge of fishery and/or natural resources economics and management.

  • Prior experience: desirable - research experience in economics; placement or internship at policy organisations.

Studentship details

This studentship will be taken as between a 3.5 and 4.5 years duration depending on personal training needs.

Residential eligibility

Home or international students are eligible for a fully-funded award (fees will be paid, and they receive a stipend/salary).

How to apply for this studentship

To be considered for this SENSS studentship, you must first apply for a place to study at the University of East Anglia, noting that you are applying for the collaborative studentship. Please follow this link for information on how to make your application.

You will also need to make a separate application to SENSS for this collaborative studentship. Please read the SENSS Collaborative Studentship Application Guidance Notes before completing our online application form. The Guidance Notes are available here.


The deadline applying to University of University of East Anglia for a place is 23:59 GMT on 23 February 2024

The deadline for submitting your application for SENSS funding on HEIApply is 12:00 GMT on 11 March 2024. No extensions to this deadline will be permitted.


For enquiries about this research project, please email Prof. Corrado Di Maria at

For enquiries related to your eligibility for this studentship, and/or the application process, please email: Melanie Steele,

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