One of the greatest challenges facing our world is how to feed an ever-increasing global population in a context of climate change, economic uncertainty and growing competition for natural resources. The sustainability of fisheries is crucial to the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of billions of people, but fish stocks are under threat due to overfishing, and many other pressures including pollution and coastal development. In order to maintain and even restore the productivity of the ocean we need to ensure cohesive fisheries management, sustainable aquaculture practices and protection of key habitats.
At PML we aim to improve the security of food resources by understanding the drivers of food-webs supporting them; by striving to understand how environmental and climate change impact these living resources and their distribution; by modelling marine productivity and ecosystems to drive fisheries models investigating different climate and management strategies; by understanding that food resource exploitation occurs within a diversity of other marine resource uses, and that managing these often conflicting interests requires an understanding the structure of their associated economy.
Aquaculture or farming of both shellfish and finfish is a huge global industry which will likely have to expand to meet future needs. Our research can help to better understand how aquaculture interacts with the changing surrounding environment and how it may be affected by climate and other human-induced changes.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is also causing a humanitarian and ecological crisis with current rates of fishing driving several species towards extinction whilst jeopardising the livelihoods of artisanal fishing communities. We are using the latest satellite tracking technology to develop robust methodologies to detect and track vessels engaged in illegal fishing and dumping activities, monitor pollution from these vessels and to develop indicators to monitor local issues under the UN Sustainable Development Goal – Life Under Water. By engaging with local communities, managers, and international policy makers, we can tailor these and other science tools to support the development of solutions underpinning food security.
Making a difference
Our work will provide the scientific background and monitoring capabilities for greater transparency and sustainable management of fisheries to help avoid the irreversible depletion of fish stocks, thus enhancing food and economic security whilst maintaining the health of our ocean.