The University of Southampton

SOES3017 Marine Fisheries Ecology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To introduce general theoretical and practical concepts of fishery management such as maximum sustainable yield, ecosystem based management and spatial fisheries management 2. To show how general ecological theory underpins management tools – in particular metabolic theory and food web theory 3. To provide an introduction to fisheries modelling 4. To show how specialist fishery stock assessment techniques contribute to the understanding of fisheries ecology.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe ecological theory underpinning modern marine fisheries assessment and management.
  • Appreciate how ecology and fishery management can act to provide sustainable resources.
  • Conduct laboratory and computer-based practical skills associated with fish ecology research and management
  • Conduct temporal and spatial analyses of fisheries data using R.
  • Conduct and analyse data from a fishery stock survey in the Solent.
  • Statistical programming
  • Boat-based survey techniques.


The module is given by members of the School of Ocean and Earth Science. Lectures focus on fisheries ecology and general principles of marine ecology that apply to fisheries management, focussing on fin fish and crustaean fisheries Data analysis practical workshops are focussed around the North Sea as a case study area providing an in-depth view of this regionally and globally important area. Assessed work will develop skills relevant to inshore fishery survey and report writing. Practical workshops are not assessed directly but form background for exam questions.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: The lecture slots (24hr) are the principle mechanism for delivery of factual content, and are used to provide introduction to central topics, to explain theoretical underpinnings of practical management and assessment tools, and to outline the state of the literature. The emphasis of the lectures is on conveying how ecological theory contributes to practical fisheries management, particularly in the context of ecosystem based fisheries management. The practical slots (36 hrs) are used to provide training in practical (transferrable) skills. A boat-based fisheries survey provides field experience, experience in survey design, statistical handling of survey data and report writing. Throughout the course practical slots are used as computer-based workshops providing training in a range of data analysis methods relevant to fisheries. Workshops include an introduction to ecosystem models (Ecopath), analysis of large fisheries datasets to compute community ecosystem indicators, spatial habitat mapping and geolocation. All workshops are conducted using R, providing statistical, data handling and coding skills. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs. All lecture notes are provided on Blackboard as are a range of relevant material such as downloaded documents and NOL focused reading lists. Formal advice on using online bibliographic databases will be given prior to starting your written report work.

Independent Study91
Practical classes and workshops35
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Theory Examination (70%): A 3 hour written examination divided into 2 sections. Section 1 (70% of exam mark) is a seen-question relating to Dr Trueman’s part of the course. At the start of the course students are given a choice of two questions. One question is an open essay-type question, asking for a thorough synthesis of the lecture material generally in the context of ecosystem based fishery management. The second question is a data analysis question and asks for an in-depth analysis of a complex dataset. Students are given the duration of the course to prepare notes (Q1) or conduct data analysis (Q2) and can take 2 sides of notes into the exam. Section 2 (30% of exam score) is a traditional essay-type question (answer 1 of 2 unseen questions) relating to Dr Jensen’s inshore fisheries component of the course. Practical task (30%): A 3-4 day survey of either Manilla clam or oyster stocks in the Solent will be conducted on board RV Callista. The dataset generated by the class will be analysed to provide information on the size frequency distribution and location of the stocks. These data will be compared with previous survey results generated by the School and CEFAS as appropriate. Tests learning outcome 5.


MethodPercentage contribution
Practical assessment 30%
Theory examination  (3 hours) 70%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SOES1007 OR SOES2011

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