Blogs and News from Partners

Using genetics to map salmon run times

Marine Scotland Blog - 10 hours 52 min ago

SalmonA key role for Marine Scotland Science is to provide the information to help to effectively balance short term economic gain and environmental conservation.  In the case of Atlantic salmon this balance is managed through Conservation Regulations.  The principle is that the economic benefits of harvesting by fisheries are allowed only where stocks are sufficiently healthy.

At present, Conservation Regulations, using best available information, are generally discharged on a spatial scale of river catchment.  However, previous work by our Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory (FFL) has shown that river stocks may include a number of salmon populations occupying discrete geographic areas and that have adapted to local environmental conditions.  There is a risk then that averaging across a catchment may fail to protect weak populations or, conversely, lose opportunities to exploit strong populations.

Our previous work has shown that salmon from different regions of a river catchment tend to return during different months of the year.  Hence, there is the potential for managing at a sub-catchment level by allowing killing of fish only during certain months.  To assess population strength of a run time group it is necessary first to establish the relationship  between return month and geographic region of the catchment where spawning occurs.  This requirement has been achieved in some rivers by tracking movements of salmon fitted with radio transmitters, a process that is highly resource intensive. However, FFL have now developed a genetic tool that has the potential to map return run times across wide geographic ranges rapidly and at much reduced cost.

In this case, small tissue samples can be taken from juvenile salmon throughout a catchment and specific genetic signatures can be used to infer the time of year that their population returns. Strength of the local population can be estimated by juvenile salmon production models that are in an advanced stage of development and hence it is anticipated that it may be possible to relate run time to population conservation status and to manage accordingly.  Trials are now underway to test the approach.

Eef Cauweiler
Molecular Population Geneticist

Further Information

 

The post Using genetics to map salmon run times appeared first on Marine Scotland.

A new study shows that the seabed landscape crucial for fish conservation

Marine Scotland Blog - Tue, 2017-12-12 10:29
Landscape effects on demersal fish revealed by field observations and predictive seabed modelling

Landscape effects on demersal fish revealed by field observations and predictive seabed modelling

A new study, led by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde and Marine Scotland Science and that is published in PLOS ONE, demonstrates the importance of protecting different seabed landscapes in order to maintain a healthy and diverse stock of fish, including cod, haddock and whiting.

Currently nature conservation and fisheries management often focus on protecting a single seabed type that is considered to be important to a commercial species, but do not routinely consider the importance of a mixture of seabed types on the marine ecosystem.

In particular, the authors highlighted the importance of a diverse and varied seabed landscape for the health and protection of Atlantic cod.

Researchers used predictive mapping and examined a 250 square kilometre area south of Arran in the Firth of Clyde from June to September in 2013 and 2014.

Lead author of the study Sophie Elliott, from the University of Glasgow, said: “The interaction of species within their landscape is rarely taken into consideration. This investigation highlights the importance of looking at landscape measures in the conservation and management of mobile demersal fish.

“Our work has shown that the mixture of seabed features matters to juvenile fish of commercial importance and understanding this could improve our ability to protect marine ecosystems and support fisheries.”

At present our marine conservation policies focus on protecting particular features such as seagrass and coralline algae beds. These policies do not consider the mixture of different features and how they could be of benefit to the wider ecosystem

Dr David Bailey, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said: “The paper breaks important new ground by showing how the variety of different seabed types across an underwater landscape can matter to fish.  The techniques and ideas developed here could help identify the most important fish nursery areas, allowing these to be prioritised for protection.”

The authors hope to test their approach on a larger scale and include other species, which are of conservation and fisheries management interest.

The study, ‘Landscape effects on demersal fish revealed by field observation and predictive seabed modelling’ is published in PLOS ONE. The study was supported by Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage grant fieldwork funding,The ClimateXChange PhD scholarship and Natural Environment Research Council National Facility for Scientific Diving grant.

Further Information

 

The post A new study shows that the seabed landscape crucial for fish conservation appeared first on Marine Scotland.

MPV Jura in the snow

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-12-11 09:32

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

MPV Jura in the snow

Marine Scotland

:copyright: Crown copyright 2017

Taking the Sea-Bird to the Faroe-Shetland Channel

Marine Scotland Blog - Fri, 2017-12-08 10:00

Duration:

8 – 18 December 2017

Gear

Sea-Bird CTD/Carousel, Plankton Nets (ARIES), water filtering equipment

Objectives

  1. Test the CTD in the Buchan Deep off Peterhead and test plankton crane and ARIES at an appropriate location before its first use.
  2.  Perform routine hydrographic sampling at stations along the long term monitoring JONSIS section in the northern North Sea (Priority 1).
  3.  Perform routine hydrographic sampling at stations along the long term monitoring Faroe-Shetland Channel section: Nolso-Flugga (Priority 1).
  4. Conduct combined plankton/hydrographic observations by deploying Aries in the Faroe-Shetland-Channel at selected stations on the Nolso-Flugga lines (Priority 1).
  5. Take nutrient, chlorophyll, TA/DIC, oxygen samples along all standard lines.
  6. Perform sampling along the Stonehaven AlterEco section (going west from 2° E) (Priority 1).
  7. Run the thermosalinograph throughout the survey.
  8. Perform routine hydrographic sampling at stations along the long term monitoring Faroe-Shetland Channel section Fair Isle-Munken (Priority 2).
  9. Conduct combined plankton/hydrographic observations by deploying Aries in the Faroe-Shetland-Channel at selected stations on the Fair Isle-Munken line (Priority 2).
  10.  Recover one ADCP mooring at a position on Faroe-Shetland Channel Faroe-Cape Wrath (FCW/NWZ) section (NWZ-E) (Priority 3).
  11. Perform hydrographic sampling in the vicinity of the above ADCP mooring in order to calibrate the mooring equipment. CTD dip at mooring location with equipment (SB56 x2 and a MicroCAT) attached to carousel (Priority 3).
  12.  If conditions in the Faroe-Shetland Channel don’t allow further work in the Faroe-Shetland Channel, conduct VMADCP/CTD work in the Moray Firth (Priority 3).
  13.  If weather/time permits, perform a VMADCP survey on the Jonsis line (around 59° 16.96′ N, 001° 15.26′ W) (Priority 3).
  14. If sheltering in a suitable location around Shetland due to bad weather conduct VMADP/CTD surveys. If time/conditions allow conduct sampling along any of the following sections (in order of priority, no water sampling):
  • East of Shetland 2
  • East of Shetland 1
  • West of Shetland 2
  • North of Shetland 1

General Procedure

 After departing Aberdeen and completing appropriate drills, the vessel will proceed to the eastern end of the JONSIS line and complete hydrographic stations in a westerly direction (Table 1, Figure 1). On route to JONSIS test deployments of the CTD and carousel will take place around the Buchan Deep.  A test of the ARIES system will also be undertaken.

The vessel will then proceed to the Faroe-Shetland Channel. We will commence hydrographic sampling and ARIES sampling at selected stations along the Nolso Flugga survey line (Table 2, Figure 1).

On completion of the Nolso Flugga line, if time allows, the vessel will proceed to conduct hydrographic sampling and ARIES sampling at selected stations on the Fair Isle-Munken survey line (Table 4, Figure 1). Towed deployments of the ARIES sampler will be carried out only at selected stations along the two lines in the Faroe-Shetland-Channel.

The AlterEco line in the North Sea is high priority so depending on weather conditions and timing Scotia will make its way to the eastern end of the line for sampling (Table 3, Figure 1).

If time allows recover the NWZE mooring (plus CTD cast) in the FSC before heading to the AlterEco line (Figure 1).

In case we are sheltering in a suitable location around Shetland run the VMADCP and perform CTD sampling along specified lines.

If time/weather is better suited for work in the Moray Firth, conduct VMADCP/CTD survey in the Moray Firth.

If time/weather allows perform a VMADCP transect on the Jonsis line.

Mooring Positions (Recovery)

NWZE – 59° 54.56’ N  006° 10.14’ W (775 m) on FCW

 Scientific Procedures

It is expected that deployments of hydrographic equipment will be carried out with the CTD crane whilst the vessel is on station.

The ARIES deployments from the trawl deck will use the plankton crane.

Three container laboratories will be required (one wet chemical analysis laboratory, two dry containers for electronics work and communications with sampling equipment). Plankton sample sorting and processing will be carried out in part of the fish laboratory.

Hydrophones for receiving data from the plankton samplers will be installed on the drop keel before the start of the survey.

All plankton samples will be preserved in formaldehyde solution and ethanol.

CTD, Optical Plankton Counter and ARIES data will be worked on at sea.

The thermosalinograph will be run throughout the survey.

Figure 1: Map including the main monitoring lines Jonsis, NOL, AlterEco, and FIM, and the mooring location.

 Map including the main monitoring lines Jonsis, NOL, AlterEco, and FIM, and the mooring location.

Table 1: JONSIS line

CODES # Name Latitude Longitude Depth Spacing N, T,O, CH, DS 01  JO 1 59°   17.00′ N 02°   14.00′ W  75 m N,CH

  02 JO 1A 59°   17.00′ N 02°     5.00′ W  90 m 4.59 nm N,CH

  03  JO 2 59°   17.00′ N 01°   56.00′ W 100 m 4.59 nm N, T,O,CH, DS 04  JO 3 59°   17.00′ N 01°   48.00′ W  80 m 4.08 nm N,CH

  05  JO 4 59°   17.00′ N 01°   40.00′ W  90 m 4.08 nm N,CH

  06  JO 5 59°   17.00′ N 01°   30.00′ W  95 m 5.10 nm N,CH

  07  JO 6 59°   17.00′ N 01°   20.00′ W 110 m 5.10 nm N, T,O,CH, DS 08 JO 6A 59°   17.00′ N 01°   10.00′ W 120 m 5.10 nm N,CH

  09  JO 7 59°   17.00′ N 01°     0.00′ W 125 m 5.10 nm N,CH

  10  JO 8 59°   17.00′ N 00°   40.00′ W 120 m 10.20 nm N,CH

 

  11  JO 9 59°   17.00′ N 00°   20.00′ W 140 m 10.20 nm N, T,O,

CH, DS 12 JO10 59°   17.00′ N    00°    0.00′ W 135 m 10.20 nm Totals 1180 m 68.36 nm

 

Priority Stations are JO-01, JO-03 and JO-06a, JO-10

 Standard depths of water bottles:

5, 10, 20, 30, 50, 75, 100 and bottom*

*Fire a ‘bottom’ bottle if seabed is more than 20m below the lowest standard bottle

 

Table 2: Nolso-Flugga line

CODES # Name Latitude Longitude Depth Spacing N, CH, DS

  01 NOL-01 60° 56.00′ N 01° 00.00′ W 110 m   N, CH

ARIES 02 SEFN1 60° 58.70′ N 01° 17.70′ W 125 m 9.00 nm N, CH 03 SEFN2 61° 01.40′ N 01° 35.40′ W 155 m 8.99 nm N, T, O, CH 04 NOL-02 61° 04.00′ N 01° 53.00′ W 270 m 8.91 nm N, CH, DS

ARIES 05 SEFN3 61° 06.00′ N 02° 01.50′ W 440 m 4.57 nm N, CH 06 NOL-03 61° 08.00′ N 02° 10.00′ W 550 m 4.57 nm N, CH 07 SEFN4 61° 09.30′ N 02° 17.50′ W 630 m 3.85 nm N, CH 08 NOL-3a 61° 11.00′ N 02° 25.00′ W 730 m 3.98 nm N, T, O, CH, DS

ARIES 09 NOL-04 61° 14.00′ N 02° 40.00′ W 1080 m 7.82 nm N, CH

ARIES (Priority) 10 NOL-05 61° 21.00′ N 03° 10.00′ W 1370 m 16.03 nm N, T, O, CH

ARIES (Priority) 11 NOL-06 61° 28.00′ N 03° 42.00′ W 1235 m 16.84 nm Nil 12 FARN2 61° 32.00′ N 03° 57.00′ W 1200 m 8.18 nm N, CH, DS

ARIES 13 NOL-07 61° 35.00′ N 04° 15.00′ W 990 m 9.08 nm Nil 14 FARN1 61° 38.00′ N 04° 33.00′ W 530 m 9.07 nm N, T, O, CH

ARIES 15 NOL-08 61° 42.00′ N 04° 51.00′ W 235 m 9.44 nm N, CH

  16 NOL-09 61° 49.00′ N 05° 21.00′ W 180 m 15.84 nm N, CH, DS 17 NOL-10 61° 54.00′ N 05° 45.00′ W 290 m 12.37 nm N, T, O,CH

  18 NOL-11 62° 00.00′ N 06° 12.00′ W 125 m 14.04 nm Totals 10245 m 162.60 nm

 Standard depths of water bottles:

5, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100, 1200 and bottom

If all 12 bottles used drop 50m, 200m and 400m depths in this order.

Fire a bottom bottle if seabed is more than 50m below the lowest standard bottle

If stations need to be missed they should be dropped in this order

[Priority 4: FARN1, FARN2], [Priority 3: SEFN1, SEFN2, SEFN3, SEFN4]

[Priority 2, NOL-3a, NOL-05, NOL-07, NOL-10]

ARIES Priorities: drop SEFN1 and NOL8 first

Table 3: AlterEco line

Some stations coincide with the Aberdeen-Hanstholm standard section operated by the Norwegians and Germans;, these are priority stations.  The Stonehaven Monitoring Site does not need to be sampled if it was recently (<7 d) sampled as part of SCObs.

 

CODE # Name Latitude Longitude Depth Spacing N, CH 01 AlterEco1 57° 00.00′ N 02° 04.00′ E     N, CH 02 AlterEco2 57° 00.00′ N 01° 48.00′ E   8.72 nm N, CH 03 AlterEco3 57° 00.00′ N 01° 36.00′ E   6.54 nm 04 AlterEco4 57° 00.00′ N 01° 22.00′ E 7.63 nm N, CH 05 AlterEco5 57° 00.00′ N 01° 08.00′ E   7.63 nm 06 AlterEco6 57° 00.00′ N 00° 54.00′ E 7.61 nm N, CH 07 AlterEco7 57° 00.00′ N 00° 40.00′ E   7.61 nm 08 AlterEco8 57° 00.00′ N 00° 27.00′ E 7.09 nm N, CH 09 AlterEco9 57° 00.00′ N 00° 14.00′ E   7.09 nm 10 AlterEco10 57° 00.00′ N 00° 00.00′ E 7.61 nm N, CH 11 AlterEco11 57° 00.00′ N 00° 14.00′ W   7.61 nm 12 AlterEco12 57° 00.00′ N 00° 28.00′ W 7.63 nm N, CH 13 AlterEco13 57° 00.00′ N 00° 42.00′ W   7.63 nm 14 AlterEco14 57° 00.00′ N 00° 55.00′ W 7.07 nm N, CH 15 AlterEco15 57° 00.00′ N   01° 08.00′ W   7.07 nm N, CH 16 AlterEco16 57° 00.00′ N 01° 28.00′ W   10.91 nm 17 AlterEco17 57° 00.00′ N 01° 47.00′ W 10.56 nm N, CH 18 AlterEco18 56° 57.80′ N 02° 06.80′ W   10.78 nm Totals 136.83 nm

Priority Stations are AlterEco1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16. AlterEco18 is a priority station if the SCObs sampling programme has not visited the site in the previous 7 days.

Standard depths of water bottles:

10, 30, 50, and bottom*

*Fire a ‘bottom’ bottle if seabed is more than 20m below the lowest standard bottle

Table 4: Fair Isle – Munken line

 (Amended for presence of Foinaven oil platform)

 

CODE # Name Latitude Longitude Depth Spacing N, CH, DS 01 FIM-01 60° 10.00′ N 03° 44.00′ W 150 m   N, CH 02 SEFF1 60° 13.00′ N 03° 51.50′ W 170 m 4.74 nm N, T, O, CH 03 FIM-02 60° 16.00′ N 03° 59.00′ W 200 m 4.84 nm N, CH

ARIES 04 SEFF2 60° 18.00′ N 04° 04.50′ W 330 m 3.36 nm N, CH, DS * 05 FIM-03 60° 20.00′ N 04° 10.00′ W 390 m 3.03 nm N, CH 06 FIM-04 60° 25.00′ N 04° 19.00′ W 655 m 6.88 nm N, CH

ARIES 07 FIM-05 60° 29.00′ N 04° 26.00′ W 995 m 5.45 nm N,T,O,CH

ARIES (Priority) 08 FIM-06 60° 35.00′ N 04° 45.00′ W 1090 m 11.15 nm N, CH, DS 09 FIM-6a 60° 38.00′ N 04° 54.00′ W 1030 m 5.33 nm N, CH

ARIES 10 FIM-07 60° 43.00′ N 05° 06.00′ W 915 m 7.70 nm N, T, O, CH 11  FIM-08 60° 47.00′ N 05° 16.00′ W 830 m 6.34 nm N, CH, DS 12  FIM-09 60° 51.00′ N 05° 29.00′ W 600 m 7.36 nm Nil 13 FARF3 60° 56.70′ N 05° 42.80′ W 333 m 8.90 nm N, CH

ARIES 14 FIM-10 61° 02.00′ N 05° 57.00′ W 280 m 8.68 nm Nil 15 FARF2 61° 07.20′ N   06° 09.40′ W 250 m 7.95 nm N, T, O, CH, DS 16 FIM-11 61° 12.00′ N 06° 22.00′ W 240 m 7.67 nm Nil 17 FARF1 61° 16.40′ N 06° 37.70′ W 100 m 8.80 nm Totals 8,558 m 108.18 nm

* FIM-03 – Use 60 20.25’N 004 09.00’W if above position is occupied.

Standard depths of water bottles:

5, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000 and bottom

If all 12 bottles used drop 50m depth. Fire a bottom bottle if seabed is more than 50m below the lowest standard bottle

If stations need to be missed they should be dropped in this order

[Priority 4: FARF1, FARF2. FARF3], [Priority 3: SEFF1, SEFF2], [Priority 2, FIM-04, FIM-06a, FIM-07]

ARIES Priorities: drop SEFF2 and FIM10 first (Highest priority in this order: FIM6, FIM7, FIM5)

Further Information:

The post Taking the Sea-Bird to the Faroe-Shetland Channel appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Having eel-y good fun on the Alba na mara

Marine Scotland Blog - Wed, 2017-12-06 10:00
Location of Sandeel fishing areas

Fig. 1 Location of Sandeel fishing areas

Duration: 6-19 December 2017

Equipment

  • Sandeel dredge × 2 (modified 4′ scallop dredge with 6″ teeth and spare toothbars) with towing bar and camera attachment.
  • TV camera.
  • Minilogger (or equivalent).

Objectives

  1. To determine the abundance, length and age of sandeels in the sediment from regions east of the Firth of Forth and around Turbot bank.
  2. To collect and preserve samples of A. marinus, specifically i) all 0-group sandeels (size to be estimated from age/length keys of sampled catches) not required for age determination; ii) 100 age-1 individuals from each of the northerly and southerly sub-regions.
  3.  To determine the sex and maturity stage of all sandeels selected for ageing.

Procedure

All required gear will be loaded onto the vessel on 4 December. Scientific staff will be transported to Leith to join the vessel on 6 December.

Two regions of historical importance for sandeel fishing will be surveyed (see Figure 1 above). In the first half of the survey a series of eight dredge stations to the east of the Firth of Forth will be sampled following the protocol established in 1999.  A modified scallop dredge will be used to catch sandeels buried in the substrate at the priority stations given in Table 1 and Figure 2 (below).  Further stations in this region will be sampled if time permits.  In the second half of the survey, the dredge will be deployed at stations 20-36 in the Turbot bank region.  Ideally five repeat tows will be conducted at each station although this may be reduced to a minimum of two if catch quantities are low or available time is limited.  Dredge duration will be approximately ten minutes at a towing speed between two and three (ideally 2.5) knots.

At each dredge station, all sandeels will be identified to species level, measured, and otoliths (five, eight or ten depending on length strata, per half centimetre) will be taken for age determination (Objective 1).

All 0-group sandeels will be retained and frozen individually for later analysis. Sub-samples of 100 age-1 (size to be determined from age-length keys of sampled catches) A. marinus will be taken from the northerly (latitude > 57°N) and southerly (latitude < 57°N) sub-regions (objective 2).

Sandeels selected for ageing will be hand stripped and assigned a maturity stage based on a simple three-point scale (I = immature/indeterminate sex; MM= mature male; MF = mature female). Immature individuals will be individually frozen for further dissection and assigned to one of two stages (IM =Immature male or IF= Immature Female) (objective 3).

 

 Dredge station latitude and longitude. Priority stations (1-10) are highlighted.

Fig 2 Chart of dredge stations to be sampled in 2217A.  Areas historically fished for sandeel are shown in green.

Fig 2 Chart of dredge stations to be sampled in 2217A. Areas historically fished for sandeel are shown in green.

Further Information:

The post Having eel-y good fun on the Alba na mara appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Meet our scientists – Helen Downie

Marine Scotland Blog - Tue, 2017-12-05 10:00
Helen Downie courtesy of Charlie Low Photography

Helen Downie, courtesy of Charlie Low Photography

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Helen Downie, a fisheries biologist in the Salmon Assessment Group, based at the freshwater field laboratory in Montrose.   I’m also involved with the Women and Equalities Network, which is looking to address gender balance in Marine Scotland.

Lastly, I also act as the local admin cover here in Montrose, so if you call our office then you’ll likely find yourself speaking to me.

Why is what you do important?  

The Salmon Assessment Group collects, collates and securely stores data on salmon and sea trout stocks which is used to support the development of policy on the management of these species. This data feeds into the conservation status assessment for rivers across Scotland which, under the Conservation Regulations, is used to determine whether salmon fisheries may retain fish in given areas. These data also contribute to the catch advice for fisheries, such as those in West Greenland, which exploit salmon stocks from a range of countries bordering the North Atlantic.

My work chairing the Career Progression Focus Group contributed to the creation of the Women and Equalities Network that I mentioned above.  This was formed as a tool to understand and address the factors causing a disparity in gender diversity with regards to staff grades.  This work is important as creating a fairer workplace will benefit all staff and ensure we make the most of our talent.

What’s your career path been – how did you get here? 

I became interested in native species conservation and mammal reintroduction through the course of my degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare.  Towards the end of my degree I heard that a charity local to home, Ayrshire Rivers Trust, was conducting water vole reintroductions.  I contacted them to see if I could volunteer during my Easter holiday, and from there got a job as a summer assistant and later assistant biologist.

Inevitably my focus moved from mammals to freshwater fish – wild Atlantic salmon in particular.  Unfortunately working for a charity amidst a recession meant that I had no job security, so I soon looked further afield and ended up here in Montrose.

If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Tough question.  I like to think I could be tracking lynx in Norway, but realistically that would probably be too cold for me.  I’m sure wildlife conservation would be my main focus, but who knows, perhaps I’d be a potter instead.

What’s your favourite fishy fact? 

I can’t say I have one specifically, but I particularly like the symbiotic relationship between the goby and the pistol shrimp. In return for the goby acting as a “guide fish” to the blind shrimp, alerting it to predators and generally keeping nearby whilst the shrimp feels around for its dinner, the goby gets to live in the shrimp’s burrow and shelter from predators.

And what about one fun fact about you?

Those that know me know that I’m obsessed with rock climbing.  I won’t be winning any medals anytime soon, but I am very proud to have climbed the Penyal d’Ifac in Spain.  It wasn’t a hard climb technically, but quite difficult mentally thanks to my fear of heights!

Further Information

The post Meet our scientists – Helen Downie appeared first on Marine Scotland.

New report published on Scottish Scallop Stocks: Results of 2016 Stock Assessments

Marine Scotland Blog - Mon, 2017-12-04 10:00

Today we’ve Scalloppublished the latest in its Scottish Marine & Freshwater Science series – Scottish Scallop Stocks: Results of 2016 Stock Assessments.

Scallops are an important species for the Scottish fishing industry. The Scottish commercial dredge fishery for king scallop (Pecten maximus) began in the 1930s in the Clyde.  It has since expanded around the coast of mainland Scotland and its islands to become the second most important shellfish fishery in Scotland.  In 2015, total scallop landings into Scotland were in excess of 10,000 tonnes with a value at first-sale of almost £23 million.  Over 90 % of these landings came from dredge fisheries and most of the remainder was taken by commercial divers.

The report presents the results of Scottish regional scallop stock assessments carried out by Marine Scotland Science based on commercial catch-at-age data up to 2015, and survey data up to and including 2016. Stock assessments are presented for the East Coast, North East, North West, Shetland and West of Kintyre scallop stocks, with catch data presented for the Clyde, Irish Sea and Orkney.  The report also gives background information on Scottish fisheries for scallops and a description of the current management and regulatory framework.

The stock assessments provide estimates of fishing mortality, recruitment and spawning stock biomass over time and the trends in these quantities vary between areas. For example, recruitment to stocks off the east coast of Scotland has declined in recent years, whereas on the west coast it has increased, resulting in increased biomass in this area.  Currently there are no agreed reference points for Scottish scallop stocks.  Management advice is therefore provided on the basis of estimates of recent fishing mortality, recruitment and biomass in relation to historical values.

Further Information

The post New report published on Scottish Scallop Stocks: Results of 2016 Stock Assessments appeared first on Marine Scotland.

The power of MRSea

Marine Scotland Blog - Mon, 2017-12-04 10:00

Renewable energy from offshore wind, wave and tidal stream developments is a key component of the Scottish Governments’ ambitions for creating a low carbon economy that contributes to action on climate change.

However, concern exists over the potential for such marine developments to negatively impact seabirds, marine mammals, and other protected species or habitats.

A key element of understanding the effects of renewables developments on the environment is the robust and effective monitoring of birds and marine mammals around constructed developments. Animals may move away from the development due to disturbance or displacement. However, detecting these changes is difficult because the number of animals may change at a site, or they may move within the site, regardless of any disturbances.

The challenge is to determine if any changes are due to a development or if these changes could have occurred anyway. Surveys of the site are therefore generally conducted before any development takes place, during construction and after construction in order to reliably determine any effects.

Statistical methods can be used to identify changes over time and across the site, but the ability of a study to detect genuine change is a statistical concept called its ‘power’. This essentially quantifies the chance that a study will correctly identify a genuine change.

A 2014 review of monitoring to detect changes in distribution or abundance of birds  at offshore wind farms recommended using power analysis when determining the design and level of effort of monitoring surveys. This would ensure that the monitoring proposed could realistically be expected to detect the magnitude of effects that may be of interest. This avoids limited resources being wasted, and helps advance our understanding of offshore renewables effects as rapidly as possible.

Marine Scotland commissioned the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) at the University of St Andrews to review the available power analysis approaches and develop power analysis software.

The software (MRSeaPower) is a free package designed to work alongside the package MRSea (Marine Renewables Strategic environmental assessment) which was also developed by CREEM under contract to Marine Scotland. Both packages work with the freely available R software environment for statistical computing and graphics (www.r-project.org).

Whilst developed for seabird and marine mammal observation survey data, and marine mammal passive acoustic monitoring data, the MRSeaPower software would be suitable for other types of animals and environments.

 

The review of power analysis approaches, MRSeaPower software, case studies and user guide are available on the Marine Scotland webpages.

The post The power of MRSea appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Finding flatfish in the Forth and Fife

Marine Scotland Blog - Fri, 2017-12-01 10:00

Duration: 30 November – 4  December

Sampling Gear:

  • BT 158 with 50 mm cod-end
  • 2 m beam trawl with 50 mm cod-end
  • Day grab and table
  • Catamaran and neuston net

Objectives

  1. To undertake flatfish sampling in St Andrews Bay, inner Firth of Forth, and the Forth estuary in support of the Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (OSPAR and MSFD D8).
  2. To undertake sediment sampling in the St Andrews Bay, Outer Firth of Forth and the Forth estuary in support of the Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (OSPAR and MSFD D8).
  3. To undertake survey of sea-surface litter in surface waters of the Forth and Scottish east coast and record seabed litter collected by the trawls (MSFD D10)
  4. To undertake fish, shellfish and sediment sampling in support of the microplastics ROAME (ST014).

Procedure

Fishing and scientific gear will be loaded in Leith at the end of the previous survey, prior to Alba na Mara sailing on 30 November.

Flounder will be sampled in St Andrews Bay and in the Forth estuary (Tancred bank), dab will be sampled in the inner Firth of Forth.  Five sediment stations will be sampled at each of St Andrews Bay, the outer Firth of Forth and the Forth estuary; at each station two grabs will be taken: one for contaminants and one for microplaastics.

The neuston trawl will be deployed in the Forth estuary, the Firth of Forth, and off the east coasts of Fife and East Lothian.  This net is to be towed at five knots, or less, for 30-90 minutes in order to collect and sample microplastics floating on the sea surface.  An additional sediment sample to be collected by Day grab from under the course of each catamaran tow for subsequent microplastics determinations.  Samples a variety of fish species will be adventitiously sampled from the trawls and frozen for work-up in the laboratory as part the microplastics ROAME (ST014).

Records will be made of seabed litter caught by the trawls.

Tables 1, 2 and 3 (below) list the sediment, fishing and sea surface litter survey sites, respectively.

Further Information:

The post Finding flatfish in the Forth and Fife appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Understanding how seals use the water column in tidally energetic areas

Marine Scotland Blog - Thu, 2017-11-30 10:00
Midpoint locations of each harbour seal dive (in red) overlaid on the high resolution bathymetry data

Midpoint locations of each harbour seal dive (in red) overlaid on the high resolution bathymetry data

As the tidal renewable industry continues to grow, increasing our understanding of the way that marine mammals use tidally energetic areas is of particular importance. This is a particular issue as there is increasing evidence that tidal energetic areas can be important foraging areas for marine mammals, therefore understanding how marine mammals use the water column is required to improve assessments of the risk of collision between seals and tidal turbines in highly energetic areas.

Building on work undertaken in a previous project which developed an improved collision risk modelling approach, utilising the most up to date information available on how seals (specifically harbour seals) use tidally active areas, this report presents a specific case study on how harbour (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) use the water column within the Brims tidal energy lease area, located between Orkney and the north coast of Scotland. The Brims site is much deeper than the site used in the original work and so provides an opportunity to consider how this affects seals’ use of the water column.

Summarising the most up to date telemetry data from 20 seals tagged between 2010 and 2016, the report details the proportion of time seals spent at different depths in the water column, as well as the number of times seals passed through different water depths during foraging dives in the Brims site.

The work, undertaken by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews, is an important step in understanding how seals use the water in highly energetic areas which can be used to inform collision risk models on the risks posed between seals and tidal turbines.

Further Information

The post Understanding how seals use the water column in tidally energetic areas appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Hearing things with COMPASS

Marine Scotland Blog - Wed, 2017-11-29 09:00
 Positions of the moorings to be retrieved and deployed during the Alba na Mara trip 1917A

Figure 1: Positions of the moorings to be retrieved and deployed during the Alba na Mara trip 1917A

On November 6th the Alba na Mara set sail once more to deploy acoustic listening devices in the west coast of Scotland. A total of six moorings containing broadband sound recording devices and cetacean echolocation “click detectors”  were to be deployed during the trip. The map below gives the planned locations for deployment.

These deployments were the first instalment of a collaborative biological monitoring network that will form part of a five year collaborative project called COMPASS, funded under EU INTERREG VA. The COMPASS network of moorings aims to gather data that will characterise and monitor the marine environment in relation to protected areas and species, and improve oceanographic models in Scottish, Northern Irish and Irish waters.

 MSS scientists on Alba na Mara preparing moorings for deployment

Figure 2: MSS scientists on Alba na Mara preparing moorings for deployment

The COMPASS deployment positions were spread out around the Minches strategically to gather relevant acoustic data. Shipping lines, fishing activity, physical processes and marine fauna all generate noise. This array seeks to discern their contribution to the acoustic environment. For example the northmost mooring at Tolsta will provide data that will help to generate an acoustic baseline for the well-established shipping lane noise through the winter. Other deployments have been sited within or in the vicinity of the Inner Hebrides and the Minches pSAC to protect harbour porpoises, and one of the moorings will be in the Stanton Banks protected area. The variety of habitats that the array covers will create a highly informative and varied data set, and will be used to explore the importance of underwater noise in influencing the quality of the marine environmental quality for marine mammals.

 

Alba also recovered moorings that had been deployed at eight positions in the Minches under EMFF funding in August 2017 . Some of these were not collected due to weather constraints and will be re-visited as soon as it becomes logistically possible.

 Approaching the deployment position for a mooring

Figure 3: Approaching the deployment position for a mooring

During the survey we gave Ross Culloch a newly employed cetacean scientist in the Renewables and Energy Programme, his first taste of the Alba na Mara, and hosted Denise Risch from SAMS, Dunstaffnage.

The weather did not exactly play ball and a few decisions were based around maximising the outcomes despite the strong winds and rough seas. But that is what can be expected at this time of year in the Minches.

We will keep you updated on the next cruises for this project.

Further Information

The post Hearing things with COMPASS appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 007

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 007

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 006

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall  2012 006

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 005

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 005

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 004

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 004

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 003

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 003

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 002

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 002

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 001

Marine Scotland Photos - Mon, 2017-11-27 11:11

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Humpback Whale Rockall 2012 001

Photograph by Captain Iain Campbell
Crown Copyright Marine Scotland

New paper on amoeba studies published

Marine Scotland Blog - Mon, 2017-11-27 10:00

NC3r logoA new scientific journal article written by researchers at Marine Scotland Science (MSS), in collaboration with the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre (SFIRC) at the University of Aberdeen, has been published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The principal author, Rachel Chance, is a PhD. student funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R’s).

The paper, entitled “Effect of repeated exposure to AQUI-S® on the viability and growth of Neoparamoeba perurans”, focuses on the effect of fish anaesthetics on the amoeba species Neoparamoeba perurans.

Neoparamoeba perurans is an amoeboid ectoparasite, naturally occurring in the marine environment, which is responsible for amoebic gill disease (AGD) in salmon and other fish species. During AGD infection, these microscopic amoebae attach to the sensitive gill tissue, causing excess mucus production, inflammation and damage to the fragile gill filaments and lamellae. Arising in the mid 1980’s in Tasmanian salmonid aquaculture, AGD is now a major issue for European aquaculture, impacting in particular upon farmed Atlantic salmon.

The aim of the paper was to find out if repeated exposure to different fish anaesthetics had any impact on the growth and viability of N. perurans. Researchers at SFIRC and MSS are interested in this question as they wish to develop an improved experimental model to better understand the disease process and how the fish respond to AGD.  This could lead to better treatments. The improved model consists of repeated non-invasive sampling (such as light gill sampling with cotton swabs) of individual infected fish. Material obtained from the swabs can be used to look at immune and other responses, and number of parasites. It is hoped that because the disease can be followed over time in the same fish, that the data will be less variable, more informative, and less fish will be needed. These analyses are still ongoing but a first step in achieving this goal was to see if repeated anaesthesia, used to reduce any stress experienced by the fish during sampling, would affect the amoebae and change artificially the disease outcome. The published paper describes how AQUI-S®, an anaesthetic which closely resembles clove oil, had no impact upon both the viability nor growth of colonies of the N. perurans amoebae grown in vitro in the laboratory. This outcome allowed the non-invasive sampling approach to be tested in vivo with infected fish.

Further Information

The post New paper on amoeba studies published appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Vacancy – Species Distribution Modeller (Closing date – 21 December 2017)

Marine Scotland Blog - Fri, 2017-11-24 10:00

We are currently seeking applications for a Species Distribution Modeller within the Ecology and Conservation group of Marine Scotland Science based in Aberdeen. This is a permanent and pensionable appointment and new entrants will normally start on the minimum of the pay range. Candidates with a disability who meet the essential criteria below will be invited to the assessments.

The main role of this post is to develop and lead on research themes relating to: species distribution modelling, marine spatial planning and geographic information systems (GIS), fisheries effort data (VMS), MPA design, and marine conservation.  The post will include participation in research surveys and the production of peer-review manuscripts and will provide logistical and technical support (e.g. statistical and GIS advice).

Qualifications Required
A PhD in biological or environmental science with a very strong numerical component.

Essential Criteria
1. A proven ability in working with large databases (e.g. PostGreSQL), spatial statistics, computational platforms (e.g.  R), GIS software (e.g. QGIS, ArcGIS) and spatial databases (e.g. PostGIS).
2. Sea-going expertise in benthic mapping on board research vessels and the willingness to travel, and, on occasion, work unsocial hours.
3. Evidence of excellent organisational skills and the ability to work both within a project team and independently.

Desirable Criteria
1. Experience of handling fisheries effort data (VMS).
2. Familiarity with Linux, working across platforms, and using off-site data centres.

For further information on this vacancy please download and review the “Person Specification and Further Information for Job Applicants” which you will find below. To apply, you must fully complete and submit an online application via this website before the closing date.

To learn more about this opportunity, please contact Dr Peter Wright at Peter.Wright@gov.scot or P.Wright@marlab.ac.uk or phone 0131 2443224.

If you experience any difficulties accessing our website or completing the online application form, please contact HR Resourcing on 0131 244 8217 or via email.

You should read each of the Essential Criteria and think about a time or an example that can help demonstrate your knowledge/skills. Remember, this must be evidence based and your answers should be clear, concise and reflect what actions you undertook. You may want to use the STAR(R) approach to respond to each criterion.

Further Information

 

The post Vacancy – Species Distribution Modeller (Closing date – 21 December 2017) appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Pages

Subscribe to Marine Scotland Information aggregator - Blogs and News from Partners