This collaborative PhD project between the University of Glasgow and Marine Scotland explores the dynamics of international labour migration in the Scottish fishing industry. The Scottish fisheries landscape has changed dramatically in the past two decades. The introduction of market-based management approaches to increase efficiency, profit and stock sustainability have had unintended consequences for the industry and people working in it. One significant consequence is the stratification of labour on fishing vessels connected to the shift from traditional `share based’ payment systems, where crew are remunerated based on share of the catch, to a fixed wage arrangement predominantly paid to agency-contracted, migrant fishers (Cardwell, 2015; Jones et al., forthcoming). The UK exit from the European Union, and the overarching framework of the Common Fisheries Policy, requires fresh insight into these issues. In order to contribute to effectively managed and sustainable fisheries in Scotland, it is vital to understand the labour market dynamics of this industry which makes significant contributions to Scotland’s local economies, and what it means for fishers and wider coastal communities.
Almost a third of crew on Scottish fishing vessels are employed through agency contracts from outside the UK, with almost 20% coming from non-EEA countries (Marine Scotland, 2016). This project explores this developing trend through a detailed and systematic analysis of the dynamics of migrant labour on Scottish fishing vessels and what this means for the wellbeing of workers and the future of Scottish fisheries. A key component of the studentship will be working in collaboration with researchers from Marine Scotland to explore the legal, economic and social relationships surrounding the recruitment of migrant fishers, working conditions and cultures on fishing vessels, remuneration differentials among crew and the wider impacts of this growing trend on coastal communities. Understanding these dynamics makes an important global contribution to fisheries and environmental policy, and economic systems more widely, given the popularity of market-based management for fisheries and environmental governance.
Aims and Objectives
The core aim of the project is to understand the relationships between fisheries governance and international labour dynamics, identifying future policy directions that protect the wellbeing of both domestic and migrant labour on Scottish fishing vessels, and contribute to promoting healthy and sustainable fishery firms and coastal communities. The student will explore:
• The legal, economic and social relationships surrounding the recruitment and retainment of migrant fishers in the Scottish fishing industry
• The relational dynamics between different actors on the vessel and in the firm (e.g. crew and skippers; agency and share-based fishers; on-shore and off-shore)
• The perceptions, experiences and outcomes for migrant workers on Scottish fishing vessels regarding recruitment, working conditions, remuneration and rights
• The perceptions of Scottish fishing communities on migrant labour in the fishing fleet
While this sets out the vision for the project the student will be encouraged to take ownership of how it runs in detail (conceptually, methodologically, collaboratively).
The project will make clear impacts to academic and policy fields of international migration and fisheries governance.
• Through a focus on the lived relationships and experiences of migrant fishers the project will advance interdisciplinary scholarship on the ‘geographies of the sea’ contributing to emergent scholarship on the ocean as a `social’ and ‘territorialised’ space
• By generating policy-relevant data on recruitment processes, migrant motivations, working conditions and remuneration as well as the broader implications for industry and coastal communities, the project will have significant impacts for the Scottish Government in an important growth area of Scotland’s economy. This will have the potential to shape policy on migration management in fisheries and other maritime growth sectors and provide critical, independent reflection on transnational recruitment processes which will be vital for regulating and ensuring ethical employment in the sector.