Luke Hasler – MSc Student, University of Portsmouth

We have awarded a research grant to Luke Hasler who is looking into how voluntary marine conservation areas can be successful and help develop sustainable fishing in local communities.

Growing up in suburban London, Luke wasn’t fortunate enough to have spent much time by the coast, yet he was always fascinated by the natural world and always dreamt of working in the marine environment. However, whilst he initially sought to make a difference through photojournalism and share emotive images of the plight of the natural world, it wasn’t until he started working in the Azores that he shifted his focus towards searching for practical solutions to preventing overfishing.

Having witnessed first hand the wider effects of overfishing and by-catch and its consequential impacts upon sustainable development within Azorean communities, Luke felt compelled to learn more about the ways in which communities could be engaged and provided with alternative techniques.

Research Project

Lyme Bay, on the south coast of England, is a marine biodiversity hotspot, containing important reef habitats that support a number of rare and threatened marine species.  In spite of some preventative measures, fishing stocks continued to decline.  However, 2008 saw the establishment of the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve, a stakeholder working group facilitated by marine conservation organisation Blue Marine Foundation and the introduction of a voluntary code of conduct. This initiative has resulted in improving stock levels and an increase in species whilst still allowing fishermen to earn a living.  It has proven to be a win-win situation.

Luke’s research will examine and understand how the engagement of stakeholders through this project has managed to be so successful. Through a series of interviews with the people on the forefront of this momentous change in the local approach to overfishing and stakeholder engagement, he hopes to discover what the driving factors behind the success of the initiative were.  Importantly he then hopes to assess what lessons can be learnt and whether, or not, they can be applied elsewhere. If they can then perhaps voluntary conservation could provide a solution to localised overfishing around the world.

Voluntary Marine Conservation – Final Summary

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