We are involved in a diverse range of activities, in the UK and internationally, as well as offering very significant inputs into teaching and PhD supervision. There has been a steadily increasing level of demand for our pioneering multidisciplinary PhD programmes, many of which are operated on a 'joint centre' basis, in which fieldwork is carried out in target localities, often overseas. Through the efforts of key staff, contributions from a range of international partners, and the enthusiasm and commitment of our active postgraduate students, the group is able to maintain significant outputs in diverse fields related to aquaculture, aquatic resources, community development, market and economic change, and sustainable development.
Our starting point is the understanding of the system - most obviously aquaculture production systems, but increasingly and with rather more challenge, the wider aquatic resource system which is manipulated for societal aims - food production, financial gain, ecological quality, aesthetic value and human livelihood. The inevitable "sustainability" - however defined (and we’ve tried this too) - also has to appear. The issues we work with centre on defining what is the goal, be it commercial aquaculture, meeting the needs of poor people, finding acceptable multiple-use resource management, or supporting ecosystem health - and defining the approaches required, incorporating a range of tools and areas of expertise. We have a common thread of working with multidisciplinary issues, though in current parlance our usual approach is more "soft systems" - with loose linkages between different components - farmed animals, environments, people, social and economic rules - rather than "hard systems" - where, as in a machine, components are tightly connected. These approaches also apply across a range of scales (please ignore images of fish skins or orchestras) - from the internal processes of a quatic organisms, through to the ecosystems they inhabit, to the production systems which interact, and to the larger community, society and political process.
The group works extensively with other departments and external collaborators in a "virtual" community - linked by common interests, and covering the range between families and communities in rural areas, fishing people and aquaculture producers, laboratory and field research, academic analysis, commercial and development practice, and major institutional policy and strategy. Our outputs range from specific applications for production and development problems, to developing production systems with new species, environments or methodologies, understanding social and economic systems and the processes of value and choice, looking at development, market and resources and the transformation processes, formulating strategic perspectives on aquaculture and aquatic resource management, and providing a range of policy and planning analysis and advice.