This PhD project examines the plastic pollution problem in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean regions, the current governance measures for dealing with plastic pollution through the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), and other broader global governance arrangements.

The candidate will investigate the effectiveness of the global governance systems in place that address plastic pollution. Further, they will analyse activities in the region such as tourism, research and fishing and their impact on the plastic pollution problem. The candidate will undertake empirical and qualitative research to assess whether the ATS can provide an adequate governance framework to address this issue.


Application process: please find more information here

More Information: Please contact Dr Joanna Vince,

Closing Date: 14th May 2021, Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

Project Outline and objectives

Recreational and tourism uses of the marine environment are often considered benign in terms of environmental impact and perhaps for this reason, few resources are allocated to undertaking research into these uses of the marine environment, particularly in terms of spatial use data and any values associated with that use.  However, when considering the marine environment as a social-ecological system, to be managed using an ecosystem approach, the importance of understanding recreational and tourism use of the marine and coastal space becomes more apparent.  For example, marine biodiversity is extremely important to marine recreation and tourism and issues such as pollution, climate change etc. may have knock-on impacts (e.g. changing the areas used or removing them completely).  Changes such as these may potentially affect components of a nation’s economy, particularly for those island states for which marine and coastal-based recreation and tourism contributes significantly. From a more immediate perspective, given that many coastal states are currently investigating the use of ecosystem based management in their marine and coastal areas, spatial data on recreation and tourism use and the values associated with that use would be beneficial for management of conflict, contributing to tools such as decision support systems and marine spatial planning.  The question remains: how can we collect such use and value data, and how can it be fed into the ecosystem based coastal management process?

The proposed PhD studentship would aim to address this question by:

  1. Identifying approaches to fine scale spatial use and use-value data collection (at the scales most suited to marine & coastal EBM), particularly those that have been used with reference to marine recreation and tourism;
  2. Assessing these approaches to identify a ‘best practice data collection method’ using SE Tasmania (INFORMD region) as a case study (including ways in which to combine scientific, local and indigenous knowledges);
  3. Identifying ways in which this data could feed into EBM decision-making – i.e. during trade-off negotiations or through development of integrated spatial socio-ecological models.

The overall research objective is method development: 1) by which to collect, analyse and present recreation and tourism use and use-value data; and 2) by which to integrate recreation and tourism use information into ecosystem-based management.


Marcus Haward, UTAS (
Karen Alexander, UTAS
Keith Sainsbury, UTAS
Jeff Dambacher, CSIRO

Desirable skills and training:

GIS skills; interviewing skills; facilitation skills; modelling experience

Collaborative links:

This project specifically deals with the fundamental premise of “socio-ecology”, as it aims to identify how to contribute human use data to ecosystem based coastal management, to contribute use-value data to coastal EBM (values which are likely to hinge upon ecosystem components) and also to use the methods developed to investigate (using scenario analysis) how changes to the ecosystem (e.g. through climate change) may impact human use of the marine environment (in terms of the recreation and tourism industries) and vice-versa.  Thus the project will advance our understanding of human uses of the marine environment and help to develop methods and tools by which to improve marine EBM decision-making (addressing two key objectives of CMS).  Furthermore, the research is multi-disciplinary bringing together social science, policy, geographical information skills and modelling (addressing the final key objective of CMS).

This project will integrate well with several other studies being developed as part of the CMS program (e.g. projects proposed to link ecological and socio-economic attributes of the marine environment, and contributing towards improved marine EBM decision-making).

The concept of offsets, though well developed and applied in terrestrial resource-based and energy sectors, has not been tested in marine-based aquaculture. This project examines the applicability of offsets as an instrument to achieve optimal social, economic and environmental returns from marine ecosystem services from marine-based aquaculture activity. Using a case study of Integrated Multi Tropic Aquaculture in Tasmania, this project will develop and test ecological, economic as well as social criteria for determining the equivalence and acceptability of impacts and benefits generated by proposed offsets. It will compare the outcomes of combinations of public policy settings and proposed offset strategies in order to inform both marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management processes, and models of sustainable and socially-supported aquaculture production.

Emily Ogier, UTAS (
Catriona Macleod, UTAS
Dugald Tinch, UTAS
Karen Alexander, UTAS

Essential skills/experience:
An honours degree in a related area of study
Demonstrated skills in quantitative research methods
Excellent written, oral and stakeholder engagement skills

Desirable skills/experience:
Skills in designing choice experiments and using other non-monetary valuation methods
Knowledge of marine resource policy and management; ecosystem services assessment, aquaculture industries

University of TasmaniaInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesCSIRO Department of the Environment
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