The BlueHealth Project – Linking Blue Spaces with Human Well-being

AuthorDr Jo Garrett

Over the last four years, researchers from across Europe have been collaborating on a multi-disciplinary project investigating the links between blue spaces and human health and well-being.

The project is now coming to an end and we have produced a BlueHealth Benefits resource which provides a snapshot of the evidence we’ve collected to date, including useful links and the challenges and opportunities urban blue spaces may face in the future.

What are blue spaces?

In the BlueHealth project, we define blue spaces as outdoor environments–either natural or manmade–that prominently feature water and are accessible to people. This can range from an ornamental fountain in an urban park to rivers, lakes and seas. The BlueHealth project also explored the potential uses of virtual blue environments.

Gwithian, Cornwall

Why blue spaces?

There is growing evidence that living near or visiting natural environments has benefits for health and well-being. These benefits may also be particularly important for people living in towns and cities where exposure to nature can be limited. However, this research tended to focus on green spaces and much less was known about the links between blue spaces and health. The BlueHealth project therefore had a particular focus on blue spaces in urban areas.

Hong Kong

How did we go about the research?

The BlueHealth project had several components utilising a range of methodologies. These included large scale data analyses, linking blue spaces and population level health outcomes; experiments which improved the access and quality of blue spaces; experiments with virtual blue spaces; assessing the qualities of existing urban blue projects around the world and exploring future scenarios of blue spaces. BlueHealth has also produced a range of tools to make comparable assessments of urban blue spaces before and after any proposed changes to help with decision making and management.

BlueHealth carried out a bespoke 18-country survey focused on the recreational use of blue spaces and the relationship with human health. The survey included questions about how often people visit different natural environments including a range of blue and green spaces. We also explored a specific visit to a blue space in detail, asking people about their most recent visit, what the environment was like and a whole range of questions about the visit. We are using this to explore how well-being outcomes from a visit are related to these different aspects.

Wimbleball Lake

BlueHealth has also investigated how a series of small-scale interventions that aimed to improve access to blue spaces have affected recreational use, physical activity and mental wellbeing. In Spain, we found that people living in a more deprived area of Barcelona did more physical activity after public access to a major urban river network was improved. In Plymouth, working in partnership with the local council, we improved facilities and access to an urban beach and found this was associated with higher well-being for people living in the area.

Teats Hill urban beach regeneration site, Plymouth

BlueHealth has also explored how virtual environments might be used in health and social care settings to boost wellbeing for those less able to visit blue spaces. Researchers have designed computer generated interactive virtual blue spaces and also explored the use of 360 video, filmed in Cornwall.

What are the benefits?

Blue spaces can have direct effects on the physical environment, such as providing habitat for wildlife, regulating urban temperatures, which may be particularly important as the climate warms, and regulating water quality. The BlueHealth project was particularly focused on how blue spaces can help to address a broad range of societal challenges such as lack of exercise, poor mental health, and health inequalities. Our large-scale data analyses have found that those living closer to the coast report better general and mental health and more physical activity [1-5] and that the benefits are greater for those on low incomes or in more deprived areas. On a smaller scale, our research has also found that short walks in urban blue spaces from work can have benefits for health and wellbeing [6] and that underwater blue environments can reduce boredom [7].

Blue future

The world is undergoing rapid climatic, environmental and societal change, and our blue spaces face challenges in the future. However, the BlueHealth project has increased the recognition of the importance of blue spaces, the word “BlueHealth” was even considered for addition into the dictionary this year. BlueHealth has developed evidence and tools helping to ensure a healthy blue future.

Sweden

Resources:

BlueHealth Website

BlueHealth Publications

BlueHealth Tools

BlueHealth in the Guardian

References

1. Garrett, J.K., et al., Coastal proximity and mental health among urban adults in England: The moderating effect of household income. Health & Place, 2019: p. 102200.

2. Garrett, J.K., et al., Urban nature and physical activity: Investigating associations using self-reported and accelerometer data and the role of household income. Environmental Research, 2020. 190: p. 109899.

3. Garrett, J.K., et al., Urban blue space and health and wellbeing in Hong Kong: Results from a survey of older adults. Health & Place, 2019. 55: p. 100-110.

4. Pasanen, T.P., et al., Neighbourhood blue space, health and wellbeing: The mediating role of different types of physical activity. Environment International, 2019. 131: p. 105016.

5. Hooyberg, A., et al., General health and residential proximity to the coast in Belgium: Results from a cross-sectional health survey. Environmental Research, 2020: p. 109225.

6. Vert, C., et al., Physical and mental health effects of repeated short walks in a blue space environment: A randomised crossover study. Environmental Research, 2020. 188: p. 109812.

7. Yeo, N.L., et al., What is the best way of delivering virtual nature for improving mood?: An experimental comparison of high definition TV, 360º video, and computer generated virtual reality. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2020: p. 101500.

 

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, please visit our website!

Exeter Marine Podcast: Theraputic Benefits of Nature and Virtual Reality – with Alex Smalley

In this episode we were joined by Alex Smalley to discuss his role as a science communicator, his PhD work on digital natural environments and how these can play a part in psychological restoration.

 

About our guest:

Alex Smalley is a science communicator and PhD student. Alex heads up the science communication for the BlueHealth and SOPHIE (Seas, Oceans & Public Health in Europe) projects, based out the ECEHH (European Centre for Environment & Human Health). He aims to enhance awareness and impact of this work across Europe. 

In his PhD Alex is investigating how immersion digital nature could be used for therapeutic purposes. This is funded through the Wellcome Centre and aims to use technology to develop an effective therapeutic intervention to reach those who might face barriers in connecting with physical natural environments. 

 

 

© BBC Radio 4

 

Topics discussed:

  • Alex’s career journey, science communication experience and current work.
  • A BBC soundscape experiment through the Forest 404 programme.
  • The impact that nature can have on psychological restoration, both in the real world and in virtual reality.

 

Resources:

Virtual Nature study

The Forest 404 experiment

Alex’s ECEHH profile

Alex’s BlueHealth profile

Alex’s SOPHIE profile

 

Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson and Katie Finnimore.

Check out other episodes of the podcast here.

You can subscribe on most podcast apps, if you’re feeling kind please leave us a review!

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Emily Easman or visit our website!

Exeter Marine Podcast: Fisheries and the SOPHIE project, with Dr. Rebecca Short

We were joined by Dr. Rebecca Short in this episode, discussing a variety of work, including her role within the SOPHIE project and her work with fisheries.

 


 

About our guest: Dr. Rebecca Short

Dr. Rebecca Short specialises in marine conservation and biology, currently working on the Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE) project, based at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH). Her work for the project involves conducting a systematic evidence mapping exercise, to synthesise the evidence of human health links with the oceans in Europe. Rebecca’s previous work has included completing her PhD based on the effects of mosquito net fisheries in Northern Mozambique, for which a new paper was recently published. She is also now a committee member of the Marine Social Science Network (MarSocSci), which facilitates multidisciplinary collaboration across the marine sector.

 


 

Topics discussed:

  • Rebecca’s role within the SOPHIE project.
  • Mosquito net use by fisheries in Mozambique.
  • Work with marine aspects of the EDGE of existence project.
  • Rebecca’s role at the ECEHH regarding the use of marine resources. 
  • Rebecca’s new role as a Blue Food Fellow.

 

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Examples above of fish caught in mosquito nets.

 


 

Resources:

 


Episode and show notes produced by Ben Toulson and Katie Finnimore.

Check out other episodes of the podcast here.

You can subscribe on most podcast apps, if you’re feeling kind please leave us a review!

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Emily Easman or visit our website!

 

 

Academics Join to Wish Happy 30th Birthday to Surfers Against Sewage

Words by Professor Brendan Godley

Last Friday, I was pleased to attend  Surfers Against Sewage 30th Anniversary celebrations where they announced their new patron, the Duke of Cornwall, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. SAS is a greatly admired NGO with whom we, and other universities committed to ocean conservation,  work very closely. They really are a force for positive change.

Prof Annette Broderick  and Dr Anne Leonard also represented ExeterMarine alongside colleagues from Plymouth University, Edinburgh University and the Environment Agency.  Other groups included a range of other stakeholders that work with the charity and, of course, SAS staff and trustees. It was a very warm and engaged event and HRH signed a sustainable surfboard made by local company Otter Surfboards to mark the event. University of Exeter alumnus, and SAS CEO, Hugo Tagholm gave a very thoughtful address and I asked him for it and paraphrase it below, as it resonated so very well, particularly with those of us from Cornwall.

Happy Birthday to SAS!

HRH Prince Charles signs a sustainable surfboard made by James Otter (Right) with SAS Chief Executive Hugo Tagholm (Left)

 

For more than four decades The Prince has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future. In the context of global challenges that include climate change, deforestation, and ocean pollution, The Prince has promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend among other things soil, water, forests, a stable climate and fish stocks endure for future generations. 

Cornwall’s is the UK’s Ocean County, our very own California, with its outstanding coastline, world-class waves, wildlife, beaches, tourism industry, and an unrivalled grassroots community of ocean activists.

People really do live and breathe the ocean in Cornwall. 

HRH Prince Charles lets Dr Meriwether Wilson (Edinburgh) know of his strong commitment to marine protection.

Our proximity to the ocean has helped us grow a unique and charismatic charity that continues to deliver marine conservation progress for the long-term protection for Planet Ocean.

This is no more so exemplified by our recent work on plastic pollution and the water-quality campaigns of the 1990s. These campaigns started in response to the pollution witnessed on the beaches that are so central to the lives, living and wellbeing of our supporters.

Our supporters are often described as the canary in the coalmine of ocean issues – walking across tidelines strewn with plastic pollution, surfing near contaminated rivers, sensitive to biodiversity loss and affected by the impacts of a changing climate. They are also privileged to be a part of the ocean ecosystem. 

And, people really do protect what they love.

HRH Prince Charles shakes hands with Prof Annette Broderick (Exeter). In background Prof Sabine Pahl (Plymouth)

It is this powerful connection with the ocean that continues to inspire our work to tackle plastic pollution, improve coastal and river water quality, raise awareness of global heating and support the call to protect 30% of our ocean over the next decade.

I would like to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who join us across the nation each year – on beaches, in schools, at events and on the campaign trail to deliver a brighter, bluer future.

Our supporters are the salty life-blood of our charity, in every part of the county, country and increasingly around the world. We are proud to empower over 100,000 beach clean volunteers annually; lead 700 Plastic Free Communities nationwide; inspire over a million school children through our Plastic Free Schools programme; and help raise the issues with policymakers through our Ocean Conservation group in Westminster.

I would like to thank my team and trustees who continue to make such a valuable contribution to the UK’s marine conservation effort, in inimitable Surfers Against Sewage style. I’d also like to make a special mention of the former leaders of the charity, Chris Hines, Vicky Garner and Rich Hardy – incredible people without whom we wouldn’t be here today!”

Surfers Against Sewage Chief Executive, Hugo Tagholm greets HRH Prince Charles and highlights the educational work of the charity.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Emily Easman or visit our website!

My Exeter PhD: Understanding marine citizenship, Pamela Buchan

To make change happen, we need to understand what motivates people to act. Today we hear from Pamela Buchan, PhD student with the University of Exeter who is studying Marine Citizenship.

Words by Pamela Buchan, PhD researcher at University of Exeter and elected councillor with Plymouth City Council.

There is a new environmental movement sweeping the world, spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, and carried forward by young people who are demanding a better future. Climate change concern in the UK is polling higher than it ever has before, and even the British government has caught wind of the desire to reduce plastic consumption. The global climate strike saw 7.6 million people around the world take to the streets. People are protesting, signing petitions, switching to electric vehicles, changing their behaviours, and making more sustainable choices to create cleaner seas and a sustainable future for everyone. This is environmental citizenship in action.

School children strike for climate, 20th September 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

 

Global climate strike in Plymouth, 20th September 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

For three years I’ve been investigating the idea of marine citizenship in a bid to better understand what drives people to become active marine citizens, what it is about the sea that is particularly motivating, and how do policies and legislation work to promote or hinder marine citizenship actions. Actions that benefit the marine environment are likely to benefit the climate also, and this might be a gateway to broader environmental citizenship. As someone who grew up in the middle of the moors with little access to the sea, it was the desire to be near the sea that first took me to Newcastle University to study marine biology and later relocate with my family to Plymouth to benefit from the ocean culture in this city and region. For me, it’s all about the sea, but what about others who are active in marine environmentalism? Does the sea as a place occupy others’ hearts in the same way?

Greta Thunberg departs from Plymouth for the US, aboard the carbon neutral Team Malizia yacht, on 14th August 2019. Credit: Pamela Buchan

Research around creating environmental citizens is often focused on environmental education and awareness raising. If people understand, are aware, and know what to do, then they’ll crack on and do it, right? This leads to lots of research investigating the perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge held by the general public, which then provides the basis of programmes to increase pro-environmental behaviours. See, for example, the list of research informing the DEFRA Framework for Pro-Environmental Behaviours, which probably explains why the goal for reaching the “unengaged and unwilling” is to: “encourage and support more sustainable behaviours through a mix of labelling, incentive and reward, infrastructure provision and capacity building (e.g. through information, education and skills).” (Emphasis mine.)

Research contributing to DEFRA Framework for Pro-Environmental Behaviours, 2007.

Undoubtedly, knowing effective ways to act is an important part of environmental citizenship but clearly it is not the whole solution. If we only ask questions about what people know, then we will only find answers that relate to knowledge. And despite many attempts at environmental education, carbon emissions continue to rise, oceans continue to be exploited and polluted, and even littering and flytipping seem to be on the increase. Knowledge isn’t changing people’s behaviours towards the environment so we need to look more deeply and holistically for other factors.

One field to turn to is environmental psychology and theories around values and identities. Social psychologist, Susan Clayton, has developed a theory that environmental activists share an environmental identity. Other researchers have argued that environmentalism is based on self-transcendent values, such as benevolence and universalism (e.g. Stern et al. 1999 and many since). We must acknowledge that not all people hold strong environmental identities or altruistic values, yet there is a lack of evidence exploring how different kinds of people can be motivated into environmental citizenship. If we are to tackle the environmental problems of today, we need at the very least for all people to be open to policy changes.

Enjoying the sea. Credit: Pamela Buchan

My PhD[1] seeks to fill this gap, specifically for marine citizenship. I set out to create space in my research design that would accommodate all findings relevant to this idea. Though my research design draws on theories from environmental psychology, human geography, and environmental law, my use of mixed methods allows me to piece together these theories with emergent findings. In my research, I surveyed, interviewed and shadowed active marine citizens, using psychological metrics and open ended interviews side by side. I found my population through case study marine groups and the national citizen science programme Capturing Our Coast and, using my survey data, I purposefully selected as broad a range of interview participants as I could. Selecting respondents with low self-transcendent values, higher self-enhancing values, a wide range of demographic variables, and as wide a range of relationships with place as was possible from the survey population.

My goal was to find the stories of people who are different. How do people who don’t fit the existing research models come to be active marine citizens? In my final year, I am still analysing my data and pulling it all together, but I have some surprising and tantalising headline findings emerging. The data has been telling me that marine citizenship is not so much a set of pro-marine environmental behaviours, but rather such behaviours are an expression of a marine identity. This marine identity is triggered, developed, or maintained, through sensory experience of the sea that promotes attachment and dependency. It seems that for marine citizens, as with myself, it is the sea itself which motivates citizenship. But there is diversity in marine identity, with people’s values shaping their motivations and types of actions they participate in. It does seem that people with a range of value sets can and do become active marine citizens via their connection to the sea.

There is already research showing that aligning climate change messaging towards specific values will encourage concern in those who are previously unconcerned (see for example Myers et al., 2012). My research points to the potential of the sea as a means of public engagement, which is arguably exemplified in real time through the ‘Blue Planet effect’ in which people have been spurred to reduce single-use plastics. If the experiential qualities of the sea can help people develop a marine identity and, from that, a willingness to perform pro-marine environmental behaviours, then it may be a valuable pathway towards improved ocean and climate health.

South Milton, Devon. Credit: Pamela Buchan

[1] ESRC funded on the interdisciplinary Environment, Energy and Resilience pathway, now known as Sustainable Futures

Further reading:

Read more about the psychological aspects of marine citizenship in my paper Citizens of the Sea: defining marine citizenship, delivered at the International Conference on Environmental Psychology, 2019.

I’ll be presenting on my PhD research at the Coastal Futures conference in London in January 2020.

Follow Pam on Twitter.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, biological,  medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

#WorldOceansDay – gender and the oceans

This #WorldOceansDay we want to celebrate our academics who are working on understanding gender roles and how this impacts both the individual and society in coastal communities. In this post we introduce you to four researchers who are all working on different aspects of the influence gender has on roles, livelihoods and wellbeing within coastal communities.

 

Dr Tomas Chaigneau

Lecturer in Social Sciences for our Environment at the University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) in Cornwall.

I am a social scientist who studies the relationship between the natural environment and peoples’ wellbeing. This involves understanding how individuals derive wellbeing from the coast but also how their actions can impact their adjacent environment. Through an interdisciplinary approach, I explore how conservation and natural resource management measures are contributing to wellbeing and poverty alleviation. In particular, the disaggregated and gendered nature of this work uncovers important trade-offs between the needs and wants of different individuals within communities and environmental management. This work seeks to find ways to reconcile these whilst minimising negative consequences for current and future generations.

You can find out more about Tomas’ research here

http://www.espa-spaces.org/

https://www.blue-communities.org/Home

https://www.navigating-complexity.com/home

Follow him on Twitter: @Tomas_Chaigneau

 

Dr Madeleine Gustavsson

Research Fellow at the Univeristy of ExeterMedical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research focuses on fishing families and communities – particularly concentrating on the small-scale fishing sector. I hold an ESRC New Investigator research grant titled: “Exploring the changing role(s), identities and wellbeing of women in small-scale fishing families.” The study focuses on how women in both the UK and Newfoundland, Canada, are sustaining small-scale fishing families. The project’s main goal is to investigate the role of women in responding to financial pressures in the fishing sector and to understand what this means to these women in terms of identity and wellbeing. 

We’ll be collecting data by interviewing people and listening to their experiences. This kind of research is called a qualitative study and our participants are the experts. We listen to their voices so we can include their knowledge in our research. We will talk to women about their experiences in the forefront of fishing businesses, and also learn about their roles in areas related to fishing—such as working in fish processing, markets, and restaurants

In the coming year we will conduct semi-structured interviews with policy makers and government representatives in the UK. We will explore how women can be supported by future fishing policies, particularly those following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

A further goal of the project is to establish a UK-wide network for women in fishing families. The Women in Fishing Network will help women to connect with each other, share experiences, and offer support.

More information is available here.

You can find out more about Madeleine on the Exeter website or on google scholar.

Follow her on Twitter: @mcgustavsson

Timur Jack-Kadioglu

PhD researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research, part of the UKRI GCRF Blue Communities Programme, is focused on how coastal communities in Palawan, the Philippines, perceive and experience livelihoods, and how these are linked with people’s wellbeing. In particular I am exploring how these are shaped by people’s gender, age, ethnicity, and class background.

Through empirical research in a municipality undergoing rapid change, I am seeking to explore how government and NGO narratives compare and contrast with the perceptions and experiences of different community members, and whether there are barriers or facilitators that influence people’s livelihood choice, in particular the most marginalised community members.

You can find Timur online or on Twitter here: @TimurJK

 

Dr Rebecca Short

Research Associate at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

Coming from a marine biology background I have developed an interest in how people and the oceans interact, particularly the balances between the benefits we derive and the impacts we have on the oceans. Recently this has focused on the role women play in the fisheries sector; how we can improve gender equity and generate win-wins for coastal communities. My PhD focused on the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear, an activity of underappreciated importance to women in developing nations which represents both and ecological risk and a socioeconomic opportunity. I am now additionally researching broadly across topics linking human health and the oceans with the European centre for Environment and Human Health SOPHIE project where we aim to set an agenda for the EU that secures the health services we critically rely on from the oceans. 

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research here, and follow her on Twitter, @BeccaEShort

 

It’s #WorldOceansDay! A focus on gender and fisheries in Mozambique

This #World oceans Day, Dr Rebecca Short from the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) talks to us about her PhD research focusing on gender roles in coastal fishing communities in Mozambique.

Words by Dr Rebecca Short, Research Associate, ECEHH, University of Exeter

I did not know that the women of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique would be so central to my PhD research when I began investigating the coastal fishing communities of this remote part of the country. I was there to take a first look at an issue that has been in the background for a long time, but seldom a main focus for those interested in fisheries; the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear. This is assumed to be a terrible idea. By putting your net in the water with a goal of feeding your family or making a small income you are not only reducing protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but also jeopardising the future sustainability of the fishery by sieving the fragile coral reef waters of fish of any size. This has been much discussed, though little scrutinised, with the result usually being to make it illegal – the case in Mozambique despite this impacting some of the poorest people. This I did know when I began and I must admit I presumed was a necessary evil to preserve the fish stocks for future generations.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise when on my very first day in the city of Pemba, having some lunch near the beach, when I saw a group of women very obviously fishing with their bright blue mosquito nets right by the shore. Surely this was quite risky? When I arrived in the much smaller villages north of the city which were to be my focus much of the same; women in the shallow waters, up to about chest height fishing with several mosquito nets sewn together in groups of three or four. Some days, groups of women fishing as far as the eye could see. Not an objection to be heard or fisheries official to be seen.

My first objective was to try to understand better the who, what, why and how of mosquito net fishing the only way I could think of; by going fishing with them. Whilst making a complete idiot of myself by apparently hauling in the net like a hapless baby, I saw a totally different side of the activity; it was fun. The groups of women were clearly good friends and laughed and joked whilst fishing (with or without my influence I should mention). This, I reflected, was in such contrast to their other main occupation of farming where they spend much of their time alone or with family on a small plot of land.

Early on in my research it was obvious there was more to it for women in what is a very conservative, patriarchal culture. Enabled by the free availability, lack of necessary fishing skills, and importantly perception of mosquito net fishing as acceptable ‘women’s work’ this has become their opportunity to make their own money (which can be more likely to contribute to community development than patriarchal income), to feed their children what is actually particularly a nutritious meal (Kawarazuka &  Béné, 2011), and of course a chance to have a break from the demands of their families! On top of this they had figured out their own economics; allotting catch according to net ownership, friendship loans of cash and food, and divisions of labour. Generating their own small industry. The significance of this should not be underestimated. Mozambique was recently rated 15th lowest in the world in the Girl’s Opportunity Index (Save The Children, 2016), and Cabo Delgado so remote from the capital of Maputo has some catching up to do with the rest of the country. Girls grow up here told that their best bet at a good life is to find a good husband, though divorce is not uncommon. To have an independent way to support your family can be more than survival but a way out of abject poverty.

If you’re wondering where the men are in this story – good question. I couldn’t really find them, and this alludes to the crux of the issue with mosquito net fishing. Because the men were using mosquito nets for fishing, you just probably won’t see them. They are further offshore, fishing with much bigger nets adapted for use over coral reefs where they would normally snag and tear, fishing in bigger groups with much larger catch sizes. This is what is seen as the problem with mosquito net fishing. Accordingly, a taboo is attached to this activity which does not exist for the women and the men hide what they are doing.

These differences are well known to the local people, and women fish so brazenly because they are not seen as a threat to the fishery. Yet nowhere in my preparation for this research, within the media, peer review literature or indeed by talking to officials did this come up. And I shouldn’t have been surprised – women are so often excluded from fisheries research. This may be because globally they play mostly secondary roles as traders, processors or indeed cooks. But even primary activities such as mosquito net fishing and what is probably one of the most widespread activities in small-scale fisheries, gleaning, are routinely disregarded in management and policy formation, whatever the governance system. This is reflected in research which focuses almost exclusively on male fisheries. But we are wising up! The field of gender and fisheries, and indeed gender and the oceans is rapidly growing. Not just as an area of interest, but driven by our increasing understanding of the critical role women play in successful development, conservation and sustainable management.

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health here.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

Find us on: Facebook : Twitter : Instagram : LinkedIn  

If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

Scientists at Sea Podcast: What’s in the water? With Dr. Anne Leonard

Show notes

Ethan and Molly talk to Dr. Anne Leonard about her work studying antibiotic resistant bacteria in the waters around our coasts. How did it get there? Is it dangerous? Where are the cleanest places to swim? All these questions and more are answered in the podcast linked above.

If people are worried about where and when they should go to beaches… going to ones that regularly meet good water quality standards is probably a good way to go.

Follow Anne on Twitter – @dr_anne_leonard

 

Read Anne’s open access (free) systematic review here:

Is it safe to go back into the water? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of acquiring infections from recreational exposure to seawater

You can also find out more about the Beach Bum Survey here (again, open access)!

 

 

Links to more of Anne’s work (membership to journals required)

A coliform-targeted metagenomic method facilitating human exposure estimates to Escherichia coli-borne antibiotic resistance genes

Human recreational exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria in coastal bathing waters

 

 

Bathing Water Quality Near You

Blue Flag Beaches

Environment Agency – Bathing Water Quality

Surfers Against Sewage – Safer Seas Service

 

 

The Jargon Buster

If there’s anything that came up in the episode that you would like to know more about, get in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Antibiotic medications

  • Drugs used to treat bacterial infections. These are used to treat a whole range of conditions such as acne, bronchitis, and skin infections.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria

  • Bacteria that are not controlled or killed by antibiotic medications.

Microorganisms

  • A living organism that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can be observed under a microscope.

MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

  • An example of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

E. coli – Escherichia coli

  • A type of bacteria that usually live in the intestines of people and animals which can cause food poisoning.

Pathogenic bacteria

  • Bacteria that is capable of causing disease.

Agricultural run-off

  • The portion of rainfall that runs over agricultural land and then into streams as surface water rather than being absorbed into ground water or evaporating.

Systematic review

  • A systematic review has multiple stages and is aimed at the identification of all reliable evidence regarding a specific clinical problem.

Next Generation Sequencing

  • A quick way of analysing DNA.

 

Get in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

SOPHIE website launched

Author – Alexander Smalley

Research in the field of Oceans and Human Health gets a big boost this week, as the Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe project launches its new website.

Designed to encourage debate between different sectors, Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE for short) will build a community of researchers and practitioners to explore the links between our oceans and our health.

The new website will share information about the project and provide a platform for bringing marine specialists together with experts from medicine and public health. The site also provides wider opportunities for the public to get involved, with researchers keen to hear from those with an interest in marine issues, ‘blue’ tourism, or healthcare.

In one example, members of the public are being encouraged to share their experiences of interventions which harness the benefits of interacting with the ocean, in the hope of inspiring similar initiatives.

The project is led by a team from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health, and has attracted €2 million in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. It is a collaboration between several partners across Europe.

You can view the new website at https://sophie2020.eu and follow SOPHIE on Twitter here https://twitter.com/@OceansHealthEU.

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