Mapping Fishing Industry Response to Shocks: Learning Lessons to Enhance Marine Resource Resilience

Paul Kemp, Jon Hare, FEPS

System resilience is the ability to buffer shocks, such as extreme weather events, war, economic disruption, or political regime shifts (1). However, rather than view shocks as purely negative phenomena, understanding how systems respond to them can provide valuable insights that can help enhance resilience to more severe shocks in the future (e.g. climate change). Over recent times the UK fishing industry has experienced a range of systemic shocks that have included changes in regulatory regime and trading arrangements (Brexit), modified supply and demand (COVID-19) (2), and threats to profitability and livelihoods (fuel crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, 3). From a systems perspective, these interacting events can have both negative and positive consequence for the marine fisheries resource operating through trade-offs and synergies. Declines in activity can have negative impacts on the fishers over the short term while allowing stocks an opportunity to recover to provide longer-term benefits. This project will use novel interdisciplinary methods that combine remote sensing, machine learning, and economic modelling to quantify the response of the fishing industry and fish stocks to systemic shocks. This will facilitate greater understanding of how resources may be more sustainably managed in the face of future threats. 



This project will adopt a systems approach to quantify multi-factor interactions that influence marine capture fisheries (e.g., fish stock status, quota, value of fish, cost of fuel, cre availability, impact of lockdowns etc.). It is envisaged that the project will follow 4 key phases: (1) Develop a conceptual “rich picture” of how the multiple factors likely interact using “stocks and flows and causal loop” diagrams; (2) Interrogate multiple sources of data to construct a database of factors that influence fisheries providing quantification and evidence of relationships envisaged during phase 1, enabling reiterative improvements in understanding; (3) Adopt novel approaches to collect information where data is lacking (e.g. activity data for small scale vessels not mandated to install onboard vessel monitoring systems), using remote sensing satellite imagery (e.g. from sentinel and planet) and social media (e.g. for recreation sectors of the fleet); (4) Construct an economic model using the data collected in collaboration with seafish to predict how the interactions between various factors influence the profitability of the industry under various different scenarios and how modification of these factors (e.g. stock status) is likely to influence long term viability of a sustainable marine fisheries industry.


Boldrewood Innovation Campus

The INSPIRE DTP programme provides comprehensive personal and professional development training alongside extensive opportunities for students to expand their multi-disciplinary outlook through interactions with a wide network of academic, research and industrial/policy partners. The student will be registered at the University of Southampton and hosted at the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Specific training as required based on a skills gap analysis for the successful candidate will include: geospatial remote sensing (e.g. GIS, satellite imagery); computer science (e.g. machine learning); systems thinking; and economic modelling.


Eligibility & Funding Details: 

Please see for details.


Background Reading: 

1.    Kemp, P. S., Froese, R., and Pauly, D. 2020. COVID-19 provides an opportunity to advance a sustainable UK fisheries policy in a post-Brexit brave new world. Marine Policy 120, 104114.

2.    Kemp, P. S., Acuto, M., Larcom, S., Lumbruso, D. and Owen, M. R. 2022. Exorcising Malthusian ghosts: Vaccinating the Nexus to advance integrated water, energy and food resource resilience. Current Research in Environmental Sustainability 4, 100108.

3.    Seafish, 2022. Fuel price impact on the seafood industry.