Picture an idyllic fishing village in the British Isles. City dwellers flock to these places for respite and to soak up the quaint historical scenery and great fresh seafood. COVID remote workers and Baby Boom Retirees are also taking up residences in rural areas. However, there are sustainability risks from the complex combination of technology advances, pressures on the marine environment, quotas and regulations, and the growing pressures on the communities themselves from becoming tourism and holiday home destinations. The purpose of our project is to build a Transition Engineering framework for regenerating local fishing communities and the marine resources they depend on. Our project aims to develop the mechanisms to shift from the unsustainable path which has developed over the past 100 years. The research question is “How do we use transition engineering to design interventions and local regulatory mechanisms that preserve traditional knowledge and shift to a sustainable marine and social management pathway? The early-stage objectives of the research are to utilise modern digital capability to create the tools of data exchange and information observation that will be essential for both engineering the transition of the unsustainable aspects of the current fishing regulations and fishing village economics. Once the new kinds of digital interfaces are established, the next objectives are to create serious games that stakeholders from all perspectives can participate in, to co-design sustainable development solutions. The key focus is on the interplay of traditional knowledge, regulations, resources including energy, and external economic factors like tourism.
Aims and objectives for the successful candidate’s research
The aim of the research is to design and demonstrate tools and interventions at the local level that objectively build a pathway to a sustainable future for rural fishing communities.
Setting for the research
- Objective 1: Design, Construct and Demonstrate three key Data Exchanges; (1) Local Fish Landing and Practices; (2) Fishers & Boats Inventory and Energy Inputs; (3) Village Accommodation Inventory
- Objective 2: Design, Construct and Demonstrate an Information Observatory for the complex interactions of factors
- Objective 3: Design, Construct and Demonstrate a Serious Game with local ecosystem representatives in Stromness
- Objective 4: Design, Prepare and Carry Out a Regulatory Sandbox for (1) Local Fish Landing and Practices; (2) Boats and Energies; (3) Village Accommodation and Property Managements
- Objective 5: Describe Innovative Interventions in (1) Local Fishing Regulations and Practices; (2) Affordable Net Zero Fishing; (3) Local Village Accommodation Rules
The student will be working with local experts and supervisors to learn accepted methods for conducting research with stakeholders, end users, regulators and the public. The student will learn about the traditional fishing and social context, and the changes and pressures over the past century. The student will learn the Transition Engineering methodology and tools. The student will need to be confident in software engineering and data systems, and will contribute to innovation in data information systems.
The student will be based at the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ) at the Orkney campus of Heriot-Watt University in the fishing village of Stromness, Orkney. The co-supervisors are Professor Susan Krumdieck of Heriot-Watt University and Professor Alison Anderson of Centre for Coastal Communities, University of Plymouth. The supervisory team includes Dr Michael Bell at the International Centre for Islands Technology in Stromness and Dr Magnus Johnson, Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Hull. Partners in the research project include the digital consultancy Aquatera and Orkney Fisheries Association.