Mitchell Lennan

PhD Researcher and Events Officer´╗┐

Mitchell joined SCELG as a Research Assistant in July 2017 and began his PhD at the Centre in October 2018. His research explores the interaction between global environmental law and science & technology, and how the integration of these two subject areas can address contemporary environmental issues. Mitchell has a strong interest in Law of the Sea and the marine environment, particularly fisheries and marine biodiversity.´╗┐

Building on a background and previous research experience in fisheries science and International Law of the Sea, Mitchell’s PhD looks at the issue of fisheries redistribution under climate change with a focus on the North Atlantic. Scientific surveys and fisheries mathematical models tell us ocean warming and acidification is shifting the distribution of many fish species poleward, or into deeper waters. An issue with this phenomenon is that fisheries distribution is often assumed as fixed around a historical average. Redistribution can (and does) lead to disputes between States who share stocks, with consequences for food security and development. In the North Atlantic, this is a huge legislative challenge from a European, UK and Scottish perspective, with Brexit adding further complexity. Mitchell’s overarching question is: “How can international, regional, national, and subnational fisheries legislation be integrated with mathematics to be resilient and adaptable to the effects of climate change on marine species, to maintain sustainable exploitation of fish stocks, and avoid disputes between States?”

Mitchell’s most recent activities include:

·     Working on a consultancy on governance of recreational fisheries with SCELG member Dr Daniela Diz for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas);

·     Contributing to a legislative study on the legislative tools and related measures to fight against the trade of illegally harvested fisheries products with Dr Diz and Dr Stephanie Switzer;

·     Assisting with an ongoing multidisciplinary research project under BENELEX utilising Legal Informatics in the linguistic interpretation of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) texts in relation to participation of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the CBD arena since March 2018;

·     Publishing two posts on the BENELEX Blog, titled: An early reflection on benefit-sharing negotiations at the International Seabed Authority and What do CBD Parties mean when they talk about 'participation'?;

·     Undertaking an internship with the Legal Office at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany during the first quarter of 2018. Researching for the Tribunal’s Registry and presenting a research paper entitled “Scientific and Technical Evidence in International Disputes Relating to the Environment”

·     Co-authoring a legislative study with Prof Elisa Morgera and other SCELG members on the right to water for FAO

Prior to joining SCELG, Mitchell earned a BSc (Hons) in Marine & Freshwater Biology from the University of Glasgow and an MSc in Marine Science, Policy & Law from the University of Southampton. His MSc thesis, titled: “Modeling the population dynamics of the European seabass (D. labrax) in the English Channel” involved undertaking fisheries research on behalf of the UK Government with a six-month research placement under the supervision of Dr Kieran Hyder at Cefas in Lowestoft.

Mitchell then graduated from Edinburgh School of Law with an LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law in November 2017. Mitchell’s studies focused on International Environmental Law, International Law of the Sea and European Environmental Law. His dissertation was supervised by Prof Alan Boyle and explored the extent to which Taiwan’s international status is a barrier in tackling its illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing problem.