School of Biology, University of St Andrews

Author: Hannah Ladd-Jones (Page 1 of 3)

The Sechura desert and the economic activities of its inhabitants

Sechura is located on the north coast of Peru, in the region of Piura. It has an area of 6311.69 km2 and an average altitude of 15 meters above sea level. It is divided into six districts, which are: Sechura (Capital of the Province), Bellavista de La Unión, Bernal, Cristo Nos Valga, Rinconada de LLicuar and Vice (INEI, 2017).

Fig 1. Sechura Map – Perú

Sechura is the home of the widest area of desert in coastal Peru. Communities that are located on the coast dedicate most of their activity to artisanal fishing in the sea. Despite being an area with a fairly hot climate and with lack of water, there are also communities further inland that develop activities such as agriculture, livestock, continental fishing, beekeeping, among others.

When we started our work on this research project, we were very excited to be able to travel to Sechura and learn about the experiences of local people in relation to their economic activities. However, we received the bad news of the arrival of COVID-19 in Peru and with it, our government imposed certain restrictive regulations that stopped a large part of the activities that we had programmed. Despite this, we adapted to the situation and reconsidered our work plan. At first we were able to analyze information available on the web, reports, theses, etc., which allowed us to better know these communities. Likewise, through telephone calls we were able to interview and make the first contacts with the inhabitants of the desert, thanks to the database provided by the NGO Prisma. Thus, we learned more about the communities that live in the desert and the level of impact that climate change and the El Niño phenomenon had on them. Through these experiences, we were able to identify some populated centers in the districts of Cristo Nos Valga and Bernal, due to their proximity to the “Ñapique”, “Ramón” and “La Niña” lagoons.

A few months later, the restrictions in Peru changed. With great caution and under a strict biosafety protocol, we were able to visit some populated centers in the desert. Among them are the most populated such as “Chutuque” and “Mala Vida” whose population is around 250 to 300 families. Around it there are also other populated centers such as “Nuevo Pozo Oscuro”, “Los Jardines”, “La Algarrobera”, among others. Families in this desert area have many economic deficiencies and basic services. They have limited access to water for family use, electricity is limited (only in some populated centers), and similarly the urban and telecommunications infrastructure is almost non-existant. Despite this, we were able to observe many children who take advantage of the tranquility of the desert to play.

Fig  2. First meeting with residents of Sechura and the team from the La Molina National Agrarian University.

The use of water for agriculture is very limited, therefore agriculture is normally carried out in small areas (<1 hectare) with little technology. The residents eagerly await the rainy season that begins in the summer (January to March); consequently, these rains moisten the soils and are suitable for growing food for a short vegetative period. In addition, these rains increase the water level in the Rivers and some lands may have temporary access to water, which is irrigated with the help of hydraulic pumps. Thus, the inhabitants of these desert communities can plant products in a limited way, such as: corn, sweet potato, various varieties of beans, watermelon, melon, cotton, squash, etc. These will then be harvested and commercialized, however much of it is stored for family consumption during the other seasons of the year.

Fig  3. Some rafts in the desert were used for fishing.
Fig  4. Some nets in the desert were used for fishing

Lately however, we have been visiting some populated centers in Sechura that are located near the channel of the Piura river. We have been interviewing residents of populated centers such as “San Cristo”, “Cerritos”, “Onza de Oro”, and unlike desert settlers, most families have irrigation canals in their agricultural fields. It has allowed them to develop a diversified agriculture such as cotton, rice, varieties of beans, sweet potatoes, fruit trees, squash, watermelon, etc. In addition, they have been able to develop raising animals such as goats, sheep, pigs, chickens in greater abundance than the desert populations.

Fig  5. Villages near to “ Ramon”, “Ñapique” and “La Niña” lagoons

The fishing is an important activity for these inhabitants; however, a large part of the fishermen are fishing in the sea and some take advantage of the Ñapique lagoon and other areas to catch mullet (Mugil cephalus) or tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).

With the presence of extreme events such as “The El Niño phenomenon”, two situations are contrasted, in the desert area this event is seen by the inhabitants as a “blessing” since the abundance of water improves their agriculture, livestock and fishing. However, the residents of the lower zone mention that it has a negative impact on them, in most of their economic activities.

We hope that the information we have been collecting will allow us to better understand this difference and propose ideas so that the local government, private companies and NGOs are interested in contributing knowledge, development plans and technology to improve the quality of life of these families.

Fig  6. Drylands for lack of rain in Ramon Lake.
Fig  7. An afternoon in “Mala Vida” – Sechura

This blog was writed by: Ivan Gomez (1) , Evelyn  Inguil (2),  Maya Gomez-Coultas(3)  and Gabriel Bonnamy (3)
(1),(2), La Molina National Agrarian University – Perú, Lima /  (3) St. Andrews University- -UK, Scotland

Coast to Ocean: A Fife-Eye View

This project is part of the wider Fife Sustainable Natural and Cultural Coastal Zone project in partnership with the People Ocean Planet Initiative and seeks to determine the relationship that Fife communities have with the sea and coast. To do this, we are surveying communities within the Fife Local Authority to understand your knowledge of and attitudes towards the sea, threats to it and, in turn, the solutions. This will provide a baseline of information that we can build upon, reflecting how Fife communities interact with and perceive the sea and coast. This enables us to identify what people are passionate about and what issues may require further engagement to support positive change for our marine area and the communities that benefit from it.

If you are a Fife resident * and would like to take part in the survey, please follow the link below. If you would prefer to talk to us, please get in touch with the Coastal Resource Management Group at crmg@st-andrews.ac.uk 

Participants will be entered into a prize draw to the value of £50.

Survey link here!

*Please note that all participants must be resident in Fife Local Authority Area on a permanent or temporary basis and be aged 16 or over.

Engaging the Fishing Industry in Marine Environmental Survey and Monitoring

Surveys using local information from fishers have been used to better understand marine life in and around Scotland’s network of Marine Protected Areas.

CRMG member, James Thorburn, worked with Marine Scotland Science members on the EMFF funded project to provide opportunities for the fishing industry to engage and collaborate with the scientific community, Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies and Government departments in Scotland, to carry out evidence gathering and marine monitoring to help deliver national and international requirements in relation to the protection and restoration of marine biodiversity (with a particular focus on Marine Protected Areas – MPAs).

The project supported three main survey types, those being drop-down video (DDV) monitoring, juvenile fish surveys and investigations into the movement ecology of flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) within and adjacent to Marine Protected areas.

Eight DDV surveys were completed throughout 2018/19. The equipment was deployed from a fishing vessel and this sampling effort resulted in 130 hours of video footage, and 16,676 photographs.

Access the report here

A number of flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius), once common around the coast but now extinct in many areas, were also found in the Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura MPA (designated for their protection in 2014). The project looked to track their movements and get a better understanding of how they use different habitats and also to see if the MPA is an important breeding ground.

Through the use of acoustic tags and acoustic receiver units deployed at locations within the MPA, it was possible to track the movement of skate within the MPA and to log the presence of the skate as they swam past.

Citation: G Pasco, B James, L Burke, C Johnston, K Orr, J Clarke, J Thorburn, P Boulcott, F Kent, L Kamphausen and R Sinclair (2021). Engaging the Fishing Industry in Marine Environmental Survey and Monitoring. Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 12 No 3, 68pp. DOI: 10.7489/12365-1

doi: 10.7489/12365-1

Reunion Para El Fortalecimiento De Actividades En El Desierto De Sechura

En el marco del proyecto “ Pesca y Agricultura en el Desierto, una plataforma para para entender cómo responder a el niño en el contexto del cambio climático en Sechura, Perú y con  la finalidad de fortalecer las actividades de coordinación en la toma de información a pobladores de las comunidades aledañas a las lagunas Ñapique y La Niña en el desierto de Sechura,”;  el equipo técnico de la Fundación para el Desarrollo Agrario (FDA) visitó el centro poblado de “Chutuque” en el distrito de Cristo Nos Valga, Sechura. La FDA contó con la presencia del Dr. Jaime Mendo y su equipo técnico; quienes se reunieron con el Sr. Bernardo Ruiz Tume (presidente del COMITÉ DE USUARIOS DE USO TEMPORAL DE AGUA PARA RIEGO AGRICOLA, GANADERÍA, PESQUERIA, TURISMO Y OTROS DEL MARGEN IZQUIERDO Y DERECHO DEL RIO PIURA, PROVINCIA SECHURA – R.A. N°040-2019-MDCNV/A) y el Sr. Diego Chunga Morales (teniente gobernador del centro poblado de “Chutuque”).

El Dr. Jaime Mendo inicio la reunión con una breve explicación del proyecto y su importancia para la toma de decisiones frente a las oportunidades que genera el Fenómeno El Niño en las actividades económicas locales, principalmente en la pesca y agricultura. Los señores Bernardo Tume y Diego Chunga manifestaron su interés en apoyar al proyecto para la realización de encuestas a más pobladores y se comprometieron a dar apoyo para que más comunidades de su organización puedan brindar facilidades para la toma de información. Asimismo, mencionaron que el mencionado comité vienen ejecutando un proyecto denominado “LA TAPA DEL CUY” cuyo fin es represar el agua que proviene del rio Piura y sea usado para la agricultura familiar; y solicitaron el apoyo para que  a través de la universidad u otra institución se pueda desarrollar proyectos productivos como la acuicultura, producción de uvas, manejo de bosques de algarrobo, producción de artemias y la capacitación para el uso del riego tecnificado como alternativa ante la escasez de agua.

El equipo de FDA manifestó a los dirigentes la importancia de la organización para acceder a fondos concursables para la elaboración de proyectos pilotos productivos de impacto social, y  se comprometió a contactar con profesores de la UNALM para que asesoren y capaciten virtualmente a los pobladores para el uso de riego tecnificado en la producción agrícola local. Cabe mencionar que los dirigentes vienen ejecutando un empadronamiento de los pobladores de su organización y se ofrecieron a facilitar la información que se necesite, esta organización contempla los centros poblados como “Mala Vida”, “Cerritos”, “Onza de Oro”, “Nuevo Pozo Oscuro”, “Los Jardines”, entre otros.

Finalmente, el equipo de la FDA llevo a cabo una reunión en Sechura con el Ing. Alex Eche Chunga (Gerente de desarrollo económico de la Municipalidad de Sechura) quien manifestó su interés en fortalecer el nivel de organización de estas comunidades para acceder a futuros fondos concursables y el apoyo logístico para continuar con las encuestas durante los siguientes meses.

Meeting for Strengthening Activities in the Sechura Desert

Within the framework of the project “Fishing and farming in the Desert, a platform to understand how to respond to the El Nino in the context of climate change in Sechura, Peru and with the aim of strengthening coordination activities with the communities surrounding the lagoons of Napique and La Niña in the Sechura Desert”; the technical team of the Agrarian Development Foundation (FDA) visited the town of “Chutuque” in the district of Cristo Nos Valga, Sechura.  Dr. Jaime  Mendo and his technical team met with Mr.  Bernardo Ruiz Tume  (Chairman of the Committee of users of temporary water for irrigation, livestock, fisheries, tourism and others of the left and right margin of the Piura River , Sechura Province – R.A. No. 040-2019-MDCNV/A) and Mr. Diego Chunga Morales (Lieutenant Governor “Chutuque”).

Dr. Jaime Mendo started the meeting with a brief explanation of the project and its importance for decision-making in the face of the opportunities generated by the El Niño in local economic activities, mainly in fisheries and agriculture. Mr. Bernardo Tume and Mr. Diego Chunga   expressed their interest in supporting the project by facilitating interviews with villagers and pledged to support more communities in their organization. They also  mentioned  that the aforementioned committee has been implementing a project called “LA TAPA DEL CUY”  aimed at damming water from the Piura River and being used for family farming; and requested support so that through the university or another institution productive projects such as aquaculture, grape production, management of algarrobo forests, production of artemia and training for the use of technical irrigation can be developed as an alternative to water  scarcity.

The FDA team expressed to leaders the importance of community organization in accessing funds for the development of pilot projects, and pledged to contact UNALM teachers to virtually advise and train villagers for the use of technical irrigation in local agricultural production. It is  worth mentioning that the leaders have registering the inhabitants in their region and offered to  provide  the   information that is needed. This organization covers the villages of  “Mala Vida”, “Cerritos”, “Onza de Oro”, “Nuevo Pozo Oscuro”, among others.

Finally, the FDA team held a meeting in Sechura with Ing. Alex Eche Chunga (Economic Development Manager of the Municipality of Sechura) who expressed an interest in strengthening the level of organization of these communities to access future funds and logistical support to continue the surveys over the next few months.

New PhD student joins CRMG

Project Title

Understanding the scale, impact and potential mitigation of marine animal entanglement in the Scottish static gear fishery.

Entanglement

Marine animal entanglement in fishing gear is a global concern, considered by many to be the most significant marine mammal welfare issue of our time. In Scottish waters concerns regarding entanglement have been raised by the inshore creel sector, and the available data indicates that the frequency, rate and range of species impacted has been increasing in recent years. Entanglements have conservation, welfare, economic and human safety implications, however a thorough scientific understanding of the issue is data deficient. For example the amount of creel gear being deployed, and the association between fishing effort and the incidence, seasonality, severity or outcome of entanglements is unclear. Recent work has highlighted industry willingness to address this issue, and meaningful engagement with fishers will be essential to this project.

The project will take a transdisciplinary approach to explore theoretical and applied approaches to mitigating entanglement risk, by building on data and methodologies developed through two innovative programmes of research:- the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System project (SIFIDS) and the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA). The main aims of the project are to:

  • Infer the location, intensity and variability of static gear fishing activity including the number of creels and amount of rope being deployed.
  • Conduct a series of surveys to measure Fishers’ perceptions, attitudes and motivations around entanglement, and understand the motives and barriers to fisher engagement with this topic.
  • Develop behaviourally-informed, evidence-based interventions to promote Fishers’ reporting of entanglement events involving cetaceans, elasmobranchs and marine turtles, and support declaration of gear loss locations and quantities.
  • Develop feasible, practical, industry-led data collection and mitigation strategies to reduce entanglement hazards whilst maintaining the economic sustainability of the fishery.

Supervisors

Dr Mark James (University of St Andrews), Dr Dave Comerford (Stirling University), Dr Andrew Brownlow (SRUC), Dr Kirstie Dearing (NatureScot), Dr Simon Northridge (University of St Andrews), Dr Tania Mendo (University of St Andrews), Prof. George Gunn (SRUC).

Funding

This project is funded through the SUPER Doctoral training partnership, in collaboration with St Andrews University, Stirling University, NatureScot and SRUC.  

Contact

Email: em323@st-andrews.ac.uk

Protecting Covid-hit fishing communities in Peru

A project is led by Dr Mark James and Dr Tania Mendo of the School of Biology has been awarded a grant of nearly £300,000 to help protect the livelihoods of fishing communities in Peru hit by Covid-19.

Peru is one of the world’s worst Covid-19 impacted countries. High levels of labour informality drive the need for people to work, undermining disease containment. This is particularly acute in the fishing and seafood supply sector where there are limited economic alternatives.

This new research will help address the urgent need to understand the impacts of Covid-19 on fishing dependent communities and to develop strategies to reactivate the seafood supply chain whilst minimising further Covid-19 infections.

The funding of £297,163 has been awarded from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

The 18-month project will create a survey platform involving data collection, collation, automated analysis and a user-friendly data visualisation interface to provide decision support information to an Inter-Agency Consortium (IAC) led by Regional Government in the Piura region of Peru.

Online survey instruments will be developed and 12 Community Monitors trained to use them remotely to collect data from 12 key fishing communities. The data collected will include: health and welfare, fisheries related production and market information together with other local socio-economic indicators.

Gaps in social welfare, poor infrastructure and living conditions as well as high levels of informal employment exacerbate the impact of this disease in Peru. Artisanal fisheries are an important and overlooked activity which provides employment and basic nutrition for some of the poorest in rural areas. Thousands of jobs in the seafood supply chain are affected by the pandemic.

The project will involve researchers from the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) in the School of Biology and the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia; the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome; the Agrarian National University; Redes Sostenibilidad Pesquera and an Inter-Agency Consortium (which includes representatives of all relevant Regional Government Departments, NGOs, industry and community stakeholders) as well as fishing organisations in Peru.

New interns at CRMG.

Adrianna Pisarczyk

“I study Marine Biology and will be going into my second year at St Andrews. I am very interested in marine conservation and want to specialise in marine zoology. I have had experience working with aquatic wildlife, surveying coral reef populations, and analysing underwater video footage, and I have also worked on several conservation projects in Bermuda, Galápagos, and the British Virgin Islands. I am excited to collaborate with the Coastal Resources Management Group this summer, and I look forward to learning more about Scotland’s commercial inshore fisheries.”

Lindsay Grant

“I have just finished my second year at St Andrews University as a Marine Biology BSc (Hons) student. I am still finding my way to a specific area within marine biology, but my interests and passions lay in science that supports the conservation of our oceans, it’s ecosystems and the sustainability of it’s fisheries. I have experience volunteering with education and outreach, as well as within marine research stations, the behaviour and biodiversity lab within St Andrews University and conservation projects both internationally and within Scotland. I am excited to be a part of the Coastal Resources Management Group for summer 2020 and look forward to the experience I will gain by interning with them, as well as being part of a group that promotes the sustainability of our oceans through science.”

The Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources programme opens

The Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources programme is a £12.4 million initiative set to deliver research in support of UK marine environmental policy across five years. The research programme will support six projects covering a range of initiatives that seek to achieve the programme’s core themes. Proposals can bid for up to £1.5 million for 36 months and must address at least two of the programme’s three themes.

The overarching objective of the SMMR programme is to improve sustainable societal, behavioural and economic benefits through better management of UK marine resources and integrate this into systems-based approaches that support the development and analysis of interventions and inform effective decision-making for marine management and policy. At the same time, the programme will achieve an enduring step change in the capability of the marine interdisciplinary research community working on marine issues and its close working on solutions with stakeholders, including policy makers, industry, and the public.

Delivery of the programme’s objective will be strongly dependent on developing interdisciplinary capability (across environmental, social and economic sciences) and stakeholder engagement. Projects will be required to solely focus on the UK’s marine environment, to take advantage of the opportunity to build on a strong portfolio of related research (e.g. NERC, Defra, Marine Scotland).

The programme’s three Themes are:

Theme 1: Understanding the different value systems people hold when they connect with the marine environment and how this affects their decision making, in order to inform and direct policy development.
Theme 2: Development and integration of modelling tools to support coastal and marine natural capital approaches and accounting.
Theme 3: Development of interventions that support government policy to improve the marine environment for the next generation.

This programme will:

• Deliver approaches and tools on interventions and management scenarios for improved environmental, social and economic outcomes focussing on public goods and net gain.
• Make recommendations on future policy concerning interventions to improve the marine environment and achieve net gain.
• Utilise social, economic and environmental metrics and model tools to enable evaluation of interventions.

For more information please check out the SMMR’s website or contact the SMMR Champions, Professor David Paterson and Dr Mark James at smmruk@st-andrews.ac.uk.

MASTS Webinar series relaunches

As the science community adjusts to working from home, MASTS relaunched it’s webinar series to help provide a platform to keep the MASTS community engaged and to share research.

From the 1st of April, each Wednesday at 1 pm will have a different presenter give a 40 min talk with a live Q&A session with host Hannah Ladd-Jones afterward. All webinars are free to join and more information about upcoming talks along with the registration form can be found here.

All seminars and their Q&A sessions are recorded and uploaded to the MASTS youtube page

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