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Commonwealth Scholarship success for Victoria graduate

Commonwealth Scholarship success for Victoria graduate

Examining the best ways to minimise the bycatch of protected species in fishing operations will be the subject of PhD research by a Victoria University of Wellington graduate, who has been awarded a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.

William Arlidge, who has a Masters in Marine Biology from Victoria, currently works for the Department of Conservation’s Marine Species and Threats team as a technical advisor, where his focus includes Māui dolphins and cold water corals.

He will be departing for the United Kingdom in January, and says the Commonwealth Scholarship—which covers university fees, travel, and an annual stipend for living expenses—presents the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I was eager to direct my research efforts towards finding solutions to sustainable resource use in the marine environment—I knew of some cutting-edge work in this area by a conservation scientist, Professor E. J. Milner-Gulland, who is currently based at Oxford. I approached her and she was happy to take me on as a student. Subsequently I successfully applied for the scholarship which is allowing me to take the opportunity to study under her supervision.”

William says the appeal of Professor Milner-Gulland’s approach is the awareness of needing to take into account the entire ecosystem—both ecological and social systems—to tackle issues, rather than targeting areas in isolation.

“My PhD will seek to develop an innovative framework for reducing the number of protected species such as seabirds, turtles, sharks and rays that are inadvertently caught by fishers. There are a number of different technologies that have been developed to minimise protected species captures, but the uptake of these practises is often low, especially in developing nations. So my goal will be to firstly develop a conceptual framework for bycatch reduction, followed by a couple of case studies exploring proposed solutions in a real-world context. Finally, I’ll be seeking to implement these new approaches into science and management.”

William says a great thing about the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme is that successful applicants are required to return to their home country once their study is completed, which ensures their newly gained expertise is put to use in a New Zealand context.

William is set to arrive in the United Kingdom to begin his studies early next year. He has registered to run the London Marathon for charity in April, with a goal of raising $10,000 for the New Zealand Cancer Society. For more information and to donate see his fundraising page.


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