ALCYON PROGRAMME **** Call for Students: MSc and PhD

Application deadline: 
Saturday, 15. September 2018 - 23:45



Call for Students:  MSc  and PhD

Project Name: “Minimising bycatch of seabirds and sea turtles in West African industrial fisheries “
BirdLife International is making available full scholarships for MSc and PhD-level research into fisheries impacts on seabirds and turtles in West Africa.
I. Purpose of the call for student
We are looking for motivated and capable students, with a keen interest in both fisheries and seabirds, for PhD and MSc programmes, which will include thesis on the Assessment of seabird bycatch levels by fisheries in West Africa.
Timing: From September 2018 
1. MSc – Assessing seabird bycatch levels by fisheries in West-Africa
The goal is to evaluate spatial and temporal patterns and process of seabird bycatch in West Africa. The work will consist in doing a synthesis of data previously collected by fisheries observers. It will require data cleaning and grooming. This work is dependent on agreements for accessing information from official sources.
A Master 2 report will have to be written, in French, English or Portuguese.
2. MSc - Identifying hotspots in fishing activities in West-Africa
The goal is to analyse georeferenced industrial fishing activities in West Africa, and to identify spatial and temporal ‘hotspots’ by various gear types (trawl, demersal longline, pelagic longline). The primary data source will be from Global Fish Watch, but supplemented where possible through the access to VMS data or other sources. The candidate will have to clean and groom data in a database before doing appropriate mapping of the data (after statistical treatment).
A Master 2 report will have to be written, in French, English or Portuguese.
3. MSc - Evaluation of the use of time-lapse camera for seabird observations on fishing boats
The goal will be to evaluate the use of alternative ways (automatic cameras) for measuring the attraction to fishing boats in seabirds. This will be dependent on previous agreements for equipping fishing boats with instruments. Data will be compared with data from fishing boat observers. Automatic time-lapse cameras will be attached such as to view the stern of the boat in order to count and identify seabirds. A GPS will be used to geolocate images. If possible a portable meteorological recording station will be added in order to record additional parameters.
A Master 1 report will have to be written, in French, English or Portuguese.
4. PhD - Seabirds in West-Africa: distribution and risk assessment
The goal is to establish a detailed description of the distribution of seabirds in West Africa, to identify times and places when bycatch risks are likely to be highest. An important data management effort will have to be made in order to homogenize different sources of data and formats.
The candidate will have to write a PhD thesis in French or in English and will have to publish at least one A-rank research paper in English (necessary for obtaining a PhD).
5. PhD - Understanding processes leading to the co-occurrence of seabirds and fishermen
The goal of this project is to understand the processes leading to the co-occurrence of seabirds and fishermen. The study will determine the effects of biotic factors (such as seabirds’ guild composition or fishing boat density) and abiotic factors (such as thermal fronts of eddies) on the co-occurrence of seabirds and fishing boats. This co-occurrence is the product of ecological factors affecting the presence of seabirds and fishermen, but also of behavioural factors affecting the mutual attractiveness. The project aims at determining the relative importance between these factors.
The candidate will have to write a PhD thesis in French or in English and will have to publish at least one A-rank research paper in English (necessary for obtaining a PhD).
II. Profile of the student
The ideal candidate will have a strong academic record, strong statistical and geospatial analytical skills, and an interest in both fisheries bycatch and applied aspects of population dynamics. 
The successful candidate must be a natural citizen of one of the West African countries (Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cabo Verde, Gambia or Sierra Leone). The MSc will involve an internship at either the BLI or IRD offices in Dakar, Senegal. 
Candidates who have published previous research in international, peer-reviewed journals will receive preference. 
The candidate must have a Master 1 degree validated. This profile is for a Master 2 candidate. The candidate must have strong skills in geographic information systems (GIS) and database management. Bases in programming (Matlab, R, other) and reading Scientific English will be necessary.
The candidate could be a student in informatics, statistics, fisheries sciences, or biology Department.
III. How to apply
Closing date: 15 September 2018
Applications should include:
 A covering letter summarising the student’s suitability for the MSc (maximum 1 page);
 A detailed CV with contact details of two referees (including one supervisor from the University) known to the applicant in an academic capacity. 
Applications should be sent by email to:
Selection:  Only shortlisted students will be contacted.
BirdLife International is coordinating the implementation of a regional project to reduce the bycatch of seabirds and sea turtles in industrial fisheries in West Africa. This project is the implementation of the MAVA Foundation’s bycatch Outcomes Action Plan (OAP7). Four strategies have been identified Strategy 1 (improving knowledge), Strategy 2 (Mitigation of bycatch) Strategy 3 (Capacity building and awareness raising) and Strategy 4 (inter)national policy advocacy and stimulating market mechanisms) to reach intermediate results by 2022.
This first phase (2017-2019) will focus on building up a solid information base. Assessing bycatch status in fisheries of the region will be a key activity, identifying fishing hotspots and the best means to collect and compile relevant data in collaboration with fisheries agencies and research institutes. An overlap analysis between turtle and seabird distributions and fishing hotspots, and determining bycatch risks, will be important steps to identify key focal areas for future bycatch mitigation, backed up by at-sea data collection through trained observers. At the same time, a review of legislation will enable the project to validate recommendations to minimize bycatch through new regulations. The project will especially target foreign industrial fleets through policy and advocacy to promote adherence to regulations and more sustainable fisheries agreements. 
Capacity building is a key feature of this project. The project seeks to build technical expertise through PhD and MSc studentships and post-doctoral research, all within disciplines relevant to bycatch, paving the way for professional local input to the second phase FPP and into the future. These students will be selected among the institutions involved in the project, and thus will be in a better position to contribute to the sustainability of activities. Also, student research topics must relate directly to project needs. 
BirdLife International and IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement) have agreed to collaborate on most of the activities of the Strategies 1 and 3 “improving knowledge” and “capacity building and awareness” to identify seabird bycatch risks, but also to build local capacity through supervising student studies.