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Hamble Estuary Partnership

Student Research Fund

This has been established to encourage local universities and their students to take an active role in providing research to underpin and refine the policies and management practices related to the Hamble Estuary. Individual stakeholder organisations are encouraged to suggest research topics to support their own management efforts. The Student Research Fund is thought to be unique in the UK and has been included in a national good practice listing of coastal management activity.


Support applied research concerning the Hamble Estuary that validates, substantiates or corroborates the Guiding Principles of the Partnership


The fund is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students studying any relevant subject at any UK university. Funding may also be available to assist PhD fieldwork costs for suitable projects.

Funding provided

The Fund will meet essential travel and research expenses. This was previously up to £200 per project, however applications in excess of this are welcome where beneficial projects can justify the costs. It is likely that successful projects will also receive advice and support from relevant local stakeholders where possible.


In return, students are required to present the research findings to a meeting of the Partnership in addition to providing a copy of their final report. This also provides a valuable opportunity for students to network with professionals in relevant fields.

Applying to the Fund

Applications should be made using the application form. (see right). Applications will be considered throughout the year.

Previous research topics

Projects that have received funding to date include

  • Colonisation of invasive terrestrial plants
  • Attitudes of Hamble Boaters to Marine Conservation Zones
  • Metal pollution in the Hamble estuary and its effects on the growth of Spartina anglica
  • Concentration of heavy metals in the estuary near to the M27 road bridge
  • An evaluation of maritime leisure conflict in the estuary
  • A study to evaluate the attitude and practices that the users of the River Hamble have adopted in respect to waste disposal and pollution prevention.

The topic areas in which research is required include Nature conservation, Recreation, Pollution and water quality, Fishing and bait collection, Physical processes, Landscape, Moorings, Archaeology and Navigation.


Current topics of particular interest suggested by stakeholders (other suggestions from stakeholder or students are welcome)

Recreation and tourism

  • Economic analysis of benefits that river activities (again on and off water) bring to the local communities
  • To quantify disturbance to feeding and roosting birds from both land-based and water-based recreational activities. Could be linked to monitoring of overall visitor numbers

Bait collection

  • Does bait digging on a large scale damage the intertidal mud - or does it enhance bird feeding activity as it turns over the mud. What evidence is there ?
  • To quantify the impact of commercial bait digging on the river - looking at use of disturbed mud by wading birds and comparing invertebrate populations in disturbed and un-disturbed areas.
  • Establishing if there are differences between areas dug for bait and those left undisturbed – continuation of work done in other harbours.
  • Affect of bait digging on archaeology


  • Surveys of estuarine fish populations in various habits throughout estuary (mudflat, saltmarsh, within marinas etc). To build on preliminary work undertaken by Environment Agency for the Water Framework Directive.
  • Evaluation of degree of colonization of River Hamble by alien/invasive species and whether recreational boating plays a role in the transfer mechanism.
  • Surveys of old and new structures to investigate colonisation by subtidal and intertidal species.

Water quality

  • Review of sources and fate of zinc inputs into the estuary – primarily the loss from sacrificial anodes used on boats.
  • Aesthetic quality surveys of the estuary and marinas. Utilising scoring system as developed for sewage related Garber surveys but extended to include other forms of contamination such as oil from marinas, boats, algal blooms, floating weed etc.
  • Sediment chemical surveys comparing results close to scrubbing piles and/or marina slipways with control sites elsewhere in the estuary.
  • Evaluation of slipway cleaners, their use and their environmental impact
  • Assessment of volume of fuel spills from marine fuel pontoons, whether this has any adverse environmental impact and whether good practice could minimise these spills.
  • Attitudes to discharge of blackwater from recreational vessels and use of pump outs (supports The Green Blue’s ‘Love Where you Sail’ project)

Waste management

  • Evaluation of the boat user waste recycling initiative on the River Hamble


  • The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology have been working on the archaeology of the river for the past 5 years, and now have a body of data concerning the history and archaeology of the river. There are a number of areas of archaeological research that may be suitable for either undergraduate or masters level dissertation topics.
    The Trust would be happy to help with suggested topics if students were interested.


Environment & Development Manager
River Hamble Harbour Authority
Shore Road, Warsash SO31 9FR

tel 01489 576387
fax 01489 580718

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