US attorney examines management of Tasmania's marine space

SEA STUDY: University of Tasmania PhD candidate Lisa Uffman-Kirsch, of the United States, is studying how the marine space is managed in Tasmania. Picture: Supplied
SEA STUDY: University of Tasmania PhD candidate Lisa Uffman-Kirsch, of the United States, is studying how the marine space is managed in Tasmania. Picture: Supplied

What brings an attorney and former politician from the American mid-west to study at the University of Tasmania?

For Lisa Uffman-Kirsch, it’s the state’s aquaculture industry.

Mrs Uffman-Kirsch is a mature age PhD candidate, affiliated with the UTAS Faculty of Law and its Centre for Marine Socioecology.

She began her studies in 2016 and is aiming to complete her research in late 2019.

A focus of her research is how the marine space is managed in Tasmania and the degree to which the public is involved in related decision-making.

“The marine space … is a commons,” Mrs Uffman-Kirsch said.

“It’s not able to be privately owned, so, for me, participatory governance has a special relevance when you’re talking about a public resource.”

Mrs Uffman-Kirsch has been a legislator in her home state of Ohio and is an attorney on the Washington DC bar.

She has numerous tertiary qualifications, including an undergraduate degree in legal studies, a master’s degree in public international law and law of the sea, as well as a juris doctor. 

Mrs Uffman-Kirsch said she had been attracted to the Centre for Marine Socioecology at UTAS due to its interdisciplinary approach to the law.

“Law is often very isolated in its study,” Mrs Uffman-Kirsch said.

“I am not a theorist – I like application of the law, so I was really looking for interdisciplinary research and that’s what brought me here.”

The PhD candidate has spoken to many stakeholders in collecting her research, including recreational and commercial fishers, residents, MPs, government and industry representatives and conservation groups.

She has not yet spoken to any of the three major industry players, Tassal, Huon Aquaculture and Petuna Seafoods, or to local government.

“The invitation still stands,” she said.

“I want to hear from everybody.”

Mrs Uffman-Kirsch is conducting an online survey of Tasmanians, attempting to hear a variety of views on aquaculture approval processes in the state.

You can participate in the anonymous survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AquaSurvTAS18.

The survey is open until June 30.

This story US attorney examines management of Tasmania’s marine space first appeared on The Advocate.