CDTS104: Energy, Technology, Behaviour, Culture and Regulation; The complex problems and transition engineering solutions for the future of local, sustainable fishing
Prof Susan Krumdieck
Fish, shellfish and marine resources have been the lifeblood of the Orkney Islands for thousands of years. Sustainability means that the richness of whole systems of economic and social systems, food supply, trade and culture of living with the sea are flourishing in millennia to come. Clearly, wild fish and shellfish populations and the marine environment are not able to withstand the pressures of economic and technical growth. Quotas and boat size regulations, plus fishing area regulations were all established to protect the fishing stocks from the overfishing made possible by technology advances in the last century. Unfortunately, the regulatory environment has not modernised with information technology, with marine science, and with ways to incorporate local knowledge and traditional behaviours. The financial and regulatory pressures on local fishing are exacerbated by tourism and cultural erosion of fishing villages and rural populations.
The project aims to facilitate the transition to healthy, low carbon local fishing communities and economies strong enough to continue to support the local land activities (e.g. tourism, restaurants, processing). The methods will be based on the Transition Lab which brings together the stakeholders from different perspectives, and applies the Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering (InTIME) process to find new ways of doing things. The objectives are to develop productive ways to capture the local knowledge about sustainable, efficient and economical fishing practices, codify this knowledge using modern digital technology and develop prototype modern quota and regulation systems. Further objectives are to address the cultural values of local fishing and find new ways to understand and govern the commons of the marine ecosystem and the fishing culture and seaside villages (E. Ostrom, 2015).
Research Question: Given that sustainability is a whole system condition (GI Broman & K-H Robert, 2015), If we focus on observing and documenting the local traditional knowledge of the marine environment and fishing, can we find a new way to build a framework for sustainable fishing as a way of life?
The concept of sustainable management of marine resources is not new. Studies of traditional cultures around the world have documented ways that human activity can co-exist with biological diversity, such as the traditional Japanese Satoumi practice (T. Yanagi, 2012). The challenges for sustainability of Scotland’s sustainable marine biodiversity and local fishing economies are complex, and local fishers lack the power or the tools to tackle the challenges. Social studies have shown how external pressures for conservation of a particular “headline” species can be difficult for local fishers to interpret and appraise (M. Johansson & A. Waldo, 2021). Government funding, in particular EU programmes for nautical tourism can skew the local development toward recreational fishing and the sensibilities of tourists (L. Miret-Pastor et al., 2021). The link between cultural tourism and the potential synergy with environmental protection has been studied (Z. Zivakavoc-Kerze & D. Mrkonjic, 2016), but examples of successful balance on the side of local communities are rare. New technologies for green marine energy have been widely investigated, but affordable and reliable alternatives are not likely in the next 5-10 years, so systems engineering investigation of sustainability metrics for different practices and vessels currently in service needs more attention (I. B. Utne, 2008) This research addresses and seeks to create ways that local communities can set their own rules and manage the inefficiencies of continental or national regulations, balance the benefits of technology with safety and the risks of over-exploitation, recover from tourism changes, maintain and pass on traditional local knowledge, revitalise the traditional fishing primary production attractiveness to young people, and deal with the pressures net zero carbon.
The supervision team and partners provide unique interdisciplinary perspectives, an excellent environment and support for the PhD candidate. Lead supervisor, Susan Krumdieck, is from Heriot-Watt University, and she is the academic research leader of the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ) and designer of the Transition Labs for community and industry challenges, including fishing. Professor Krumdieck will provide the overall direction through the Transition Engineering approach, and through coordination with the ICNZ. The ICIT hosts a well-known marine science research and teaching programme, and the assistant supervisor, Mike Bell is part of that group. Mike Bell is a researcher and lecturer in marine ecology, focusing on fisheries and ecological interactions with marine renewables, an experienced fisheries scientists, contributing to management advice, stock assessment and research into fisheries sustainability issues at national and international levels. The co-supervisor, Alison Anderson, has expertise in social sciences, particularly the challenges of local communities dealing with industrial developments in the marine environment. The ICIT has recently hosted the other assistant supervisor on the team, Magnus Johnson, who is looking at electrification for local fishing boats, and who has rapport with the fishers, having a family history and personal experience as a fisherman. The fishing industry partners in the research have already been approached and have agreed to participate through member surveys, hands-on review and data collection, and participation in the data observatory and gamification processes. Thus, the interdisciplinarity of the supervision team and the partners provides needed coverage of the wide scope and complexity of the research topic.
The resources for the CDT scholarship are established. The student will be located in the historic fishing village of Stromness at the International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT), Orkney Campus. The partners in the ICNZ are providing 50% of scholarship funding, which will provide the matching funds for the project.
The aim of the research is to navigate the pathways for change out of the complexity and pressures of unsustainable energy and resource use. The project aims to facilitate the transition to healthy, low carbon local fishing communities and economies strong enough to continue to support the local land activities (e.g. tourism, restaurants, processing).
The methods of Transition Engineering, Marine Science, Social Science, and Fisheries Management will be converged in the Transition Lab which brings together the stakeholders from different perspectives, and applies the Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering (InTIME) process to find new ways of doing things (S. Krumdieck, 2020). The Transition Lab for Marine Primary Production (see figure) will be established within the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ), a £16.5M, 5-year programme of the UK and Scottish Government Islands Growth Deal. The HWU component of the ICNZ is the Transition Lab, the Data Exchanges and Observatories. The PhD will have a uniquely interdisciplinary Transition Engineering scope.
The objectives are to develop productive ways to capture the local knowledge about sustainable, efficient, and economical fishing practices, codify this knowledge using modern digital technology and develop prototype modern quota and regulation systems. Further objectives are to address the cultural values of local fishing and find new ways to understand and govern the commons of the marine ecosystem and the fishing culture and seaside villages (E. Ostrom, 2015).
Islands Centre for Net Zero
The UK Islands Growth Deal established the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ) to facilitate and catalyse the energy transition across the Scottish Islands. The highly ambitious mission to meet the emissions reduction targets by 2030 creates the context for research. The target to downshift fossil fuel by 80% is the driver for the research programme. Fossil fuel is ubiquitous in the daily lives, the essential goods and services and the economic activities of Orkney, Shetland and Outer Hebrides. The short timeframe of less than a decade to achieve net zero carbon means that ‘action research’ must be employed. This entails starting from the ground-up, working with the local communities, councils and organisations to change what they are doing now, in ways that work for them now and into the future. The ICNZ will involve a sizeable group of MSc and PhD students together with postdoctors, in the Transition Lab. The Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering (InTIME) methodology will be employed to work with cohorts of stakeholders from the range of energy ecosystems, e.g. residential and commercial buildings, private and freight transport, and primary production and manufacturing. This PhD scholarship is to be awarded to an outstanding candidate with an engineering background who aims to become a leader in Transition Engineering. The research will be interdisciplinary, involving energy supply, infrastructure and policy, and also end-use energy conversions, essential needs, behavior, economics, and social and environmental factors.
This research will explore the questions of how to make effective use of data, modelling and processes for energy transition through a “cohort” of stakeholder participants representing a particular energy ecosystem. There are obvious challenges for collecting and using data about energy production, retail and end-use consumption. There are numerous challenges in modelling of transitions. Energy scenarios have been a major area of research interest for 20 years and an influential tool for policy-makers, but social acceptance factors are becoming understood to be greater influence that is not well understood. The InTME Stakeholder Journey that will be developed and employed in the ICNZ will work to engage the cohort through trust, curiosity and reflection on history, and by using data, modelling and gamification to explore the transition to net zero through action research projects.
The supervisory team brings the following skill sets to the project:
Susan Krumdieck: Energy Transition, Transition Engineering, Academic Lead on Islands Centre for Net Zero
Meng Wu is currently a CDT SuMMeR scholar working on this research project. 2022-2026
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