Press release

MSC scholarship program helps fund sustainability research in four oceans

August 13, 2018

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is proud to announce the five winners of the latest round of its scholarship program, including a project to study Arctic food webs, trials to monitor lobster stocks off the coast of Scotland and a project to monitor fish aggregating devices (FADs) in small-scale Indonesian tuna fisheries.

The program provides funding of up to £4,000 per student to support research looking at environmental improvement, supply chain management or best practice in fisheries management. Last year’s winners have already started contributing to ocean sustainability, with their research providing new data and insights into the trade flow of octopus across East Africa, and the effectiveness of LED lights on turtle bycatch in Kenya.

This year's winners

Laurissa Christie from the University of Windsor in Canada, is studying the influence of sea ice on deep-water food web dynamics in the Arctic. Her research is vital to monitoring the impacts of fisheries on Arctic food webs and will fill a key knowledge gap in this understudied region. Working with Inuit communities in Nanavut, Canada, Christie will collect samples from trawl surveys and local Inuit hunts.

Christie commented: “I became interested in ocean sustainability while participating on the Students on Ice Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. Having grown up on Lake Huron, travelling to the Polar Regions was one of my first exposures to the stressors facing marine ecosystems. I immediately felt connected to the Poles and I realized that I wanted to dedicate my career preserving them for future generations.”

Ahmad Catur Widyatmoko, a student at the University of Basque Country in Spain and MER Consortium, will be researching the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in small-scale Indonesian tuna fisheries. There are currently many unregistered FADs deployed in Indonesia and, working with Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia, the project aims to locate FADs and analyse vessel behaviour and catch around them. Catur Widyatmoko will then work with scientists at CSIRO Australia develop statistical models describing the use of FADs.

Catur Widyatmoko said: “I grew up in Indonesia which has a population of more than 250 million and most of them live in the coastal areas. Given the geography of the country, which consists of a thousand islands, it makes me realized that the ocean is important for food security and livelihoods. Therefore, I want to be involved with managing ocean resources, especially fish, in a sustainable way.”

Zelin Chen from the University of Washington, USA, will be researching management strategies for a quota-based management system in China’s red swimming crab fishery. Red swimming crab is valuable to local fishing communities in China, playing an important role in global seafood trade. Chen will study the perceptions of key stakeholders and review existing literature. The project will advance understanding of Chinese red swimmer crab and provide recommendations on a quota-based management system.

Chen commented: "Sustainability has been a heated topic in the mainstream discussion. My undergraduate education in marine resource and environment not only shows me the marvellous underwater world with a variety of amazing creatures and their living habitats, but also reveals the reality that global fishery resource is declining while many challenges exists in achieving ocean sustainability such as IUU, public awareness and so on."

Catherine Seguel from the Universidad Austral de Chile, was awarded for her project mapping the value chain of the Chilean marmola crab fishery. Marmola crab are a commercially important species in Chile where they are harvested using traps and diving. Catherine will conduct interviews to identify new market opportunities and map the value chain at a regional, national and international level. The research will help prepare the fishery for pursuing future MSC chain of custody certification.

"I am happy to receive the scholarship because I can work on what I love: to work with fishermen's unions and together solve problems and find solutions to fisheries sustainability challenges," she said.

Matthew Coleman, a student at Heriot-Watt University in the UK, will be trialling a new way of monitoring stocks of European lobster off the coast of Scotland. The European lobster fishery is vital to Scotland’s rural fishing communities and a limited understanding of the stock status makes sustainable management difficult. Coleman will collaborate with Orkney Sustainable Fisheries to tag and release undersized and legal sized lobsters, recording their movements and recaptures to provide insight into population density, behaviour and distribution of the stock.

"I think the biggest threat to our oceans is climate change. The role of climate in fisheries is still so poorly understood, especially in the context of UK crustacean fisheries and its impacts on baseline biology of exploited stocks."

Read more about our scholarship research program
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