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Meet our scientists – Dr Carey Fraser

Tue, 2017-10-10 10:00

Carey FraserWho are you and what do you do?

I am Carey Fraser. I work 30 hours a week and spend half of my week as Science Operations Programme Manager for Marine Scotland Science, and half on secondment as Head of Professional Development for Science in the Scottish Government.

Why is what you do important?

Science Operations provide specialist services to all areas of Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and beyond so it is important that I communicate details about Marine Scotland’s priorities, resources and likely future changes to the specialist groups. The Head of Professional Development is a new role and my first task is to set up a career development strategy for scientists working in the Scottish Government. There are scientists of all disciplines working in many different areas of Government including bench scientists and specialists in MSS and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), advisors in the Agriculture & Rural Economy and Environment & Forestry Directorates of the Scottish Government, as well as Food Standards Scotland, and scientists providing advice or commissioning science for other areas of Government, such as Health and Social Care. Any strategy needs to provide for this diverse range of staff and link to other Government analytical professions, such as Economists, Statisticians and Social Researchers.

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

I began as an Assistant Scientific Officer in the Parasitology section of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DAFS) in 1984. I carried out lab work, fish farm visits and a couple of sea trips but I was never a good sailor.   Thanks to a very supportive line manager, I studied part-time for a degree with the Open University. I moved to a brand new Molecular Genetics section after completing my degree and studied part-time for a PhD while developing DNA tests to identify parasite species. I was promoted to Group Leader for the Molecular Genetics at a very exciting time when we developed world-leading testing services and research team. I was seconded to the senior management team at the time when we were Fisheries Research Services (the predecessor to Marine Scotland Science), and coordinated the planning and reporting of the Scottish Government-funded science programme. Not content with just the two degrees, I completed a part-time MBA around this stage.

Since the inception of Marine Scotland I have become Science Operations Programme Manager and have had duties that include chairing the UK and Scottish Research Vessel Working Groups, a secondment to conduct a review of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and helping and supporting both MSS and SASA in joining the Athena SWAN to begin working towards the Bronze charter for gender equality. It feels like I have had several different jobs, just all in more or less the same location!

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

We used to ask this question in the labs some days and I honestly don’t know. I’d like to say I would have been a Vet. I think I would have enjoyed that career, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have worked hard enough in my last year at school to get in.

GS bugWhat’s your favourite fishy fact?

Gyrodactylus parasites give birth to live young. The electron micrographs of this look like a scene from ‘Alien’ (see right).

And one fun fact about you?

I like going to the gym to stave off running injuries. My 100kg deadlift personal best pales into insignificance compared to the achievements of my powerlifting champion colleague in communications, who is my hero!

Further Information

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The Buckland Foundation lecture – 12 October 2017

Tue, 2017-10-03 10:00

Buckland LogoThe Buckland Foundation: Stewards of the Sea: Returning Power to Fishers

Thursday 12 October 2017, The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, St Andrews, KY16 9LA, 16.30 for 17.00.
Free Entry & Refreshments Available.

The Scottish presentation of the 2017 Buckland Lecture will be in the Byre Theatre at the University of St Andrews on Thursday 12 October at 16.30, hosted by the University of St Andrews and the Buckland Foundation, which is based in the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther. Entry will be free and refreshments will be provided.

The speaker will be Paul J B Hart, Emeritus Professor of Fish Biology and Fisheries, University of Leicester, and will address the issue of Stewards of the Sea : Returning Power to Fishers. In his Lecture Professor Hart examines the factors that have distanced fishers from the fisheries management process. He will discuss ways in which fishers are being brought back into the process managing their fish stocks sustainably and of thus contributing to marine conservation. He aims empower fishers to take the lead in the fisheries management system.

Speaker: Professor Paul Hart, Professor Emeritus of Fish Biology and Fisheries, University of Leicester

Further information from John Firn : 079 1936 1689 or johnfirn@hotmail.co.uk

The Buckland Foundation

Frank Buckland was a 19th century army surgeon, naturalist and bon viveur who was deeply interested in every kind of creature from both a natural history and gourmet viewpoints. In later life he became an insightful Inspector of Salmon Fisheries and actively promoted rational fishing and aquaculture. In 1920 his family bequeathed the residue of his estate to establish a trust to perpetuate and promote these interests. The Trust annually appoints a Buckland Professor to give the Buckland Lecture, supports Summer Studentships in universities and research institutes, and hosts a major biennial colloquium on sustainable fisheries. The Foundation is based at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, and further information is available on http://www.scotfishmuseum.org/the-buckland-foundation.

 

The post The Buckland Foundation lecture – 12 October 2017 appeared first on Marine Scotland.

The genetic stock identification of European Atlantic salmon

Fri, 2017-09-29 10:00

Map of smapling regionsMarine Scotland scientists, including senior author Dr John Gilbey, Eef Cauweiler and Lee Stradmeyer,  have been involved in a recent publication in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.

The publication, which is the results of a collaboration between researchers from laboratories in 11 countries from across Europe, provides the most comprehensive geographical coverage for an Atlantic salmon data-set for genetic stock identification of salmon at sea, and is a unique resource for the conservation and management of the species in Europe.

To facilitate marine stock identification, a genetic baseline was developed covering the European component of the species’ range from the Russian River Megra in the north-east, the Icelandic Ellidaar in the west, and the Spanish Ulla in the south, spanning 3737 km North to South and 2717 km East to West. The baseline encompasses data for 14 genetic markers for 26 822 individual fish from 13 countries, 282 rivers, and 467 sampling sites and provides a hierarchy of regional genetic assignment units.

At the top level, three assignment units were identified comprising northern (Scandinavia, Russia), southern, and Icelandic regions. A second assignment level was also defined, comprising eighteen and twenty-nine regional units for accurate individual assignment and mixed stock estimates respectively.

More information

 

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Joint Warrior Training Activity: 30th September – 12th October 2017

Wed, 2017-09-27 10:00

Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 172 (JW172) will take place between 30 September and 12 October 2017, delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) from Faslane. It is a programme of exercises conducted across the UK by land forces, warships, submarines and aircraft from 14 Nations. The majority of the maritime and air activity will be focussed in the airspace, offshore and coastal waters to the North and North West of Scotland. This booklet provides outline information on scheduled activity including details of intended gunnery and aircraft bombing activity at Cape Wrath and in some open ocean areas.

Further Information

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The Scotia went to CTD to see what she could ADCP

Mon, 2017-09-25 10:00

MRV ScotiaDuration: 6-16 October 2017

Gear

Sea-Bird CTDs (Conductivity, Pressure & Depth), ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) instrumentation and AL-200 frame, water filtering equipment, bacteria sampling and experimental equipment, including bacterial culture equipment with CO2 gas enrichment (HWU), mooring equipment and recovery trawl.

Objectives

  1. Test the CTD in the Buchan Deep off Peterhead
  2.  Perform hydrographic sampling along the JONSIS long term monitoring section in the northern North Sea.
  3.  Deploy ADCP on JONSIS line in AL-200 frame (AECO).
  4. Recover and download the data from a single string ACDP mooring on the Fair Isle – Munken section in the FSC (NWS-E).
  5. Re-deploy one ADCP mooring at a position on Fair Isle – Munken section.
  6. Take surface water samples near FIM 8 location for phytoplankton and bacterial analysis and experimentation (HWU).
  7.  Perform hydrographic sampling along the long term monitoring Faroe-Shetland Channel Nolso – Flugga (NOL/NWE) section.
  8.  Perform hydrographic sampling along the long term monitoring Faroe-Shetland Channel Fair Isle – Munken (NWS) section.
  9. Take water samples for long term storage on two Fair Isle – Munken or Nolso – Flugga section stations.
  10. Take water samples for bacteria analysis at selected stations on the monitoring lines.
  11.  Recover one ADCP mooring at a position on Faroe-Shetland Channel Faroe – Cape Wrath (FCW/NWZ) section (NWZ-E).
  12.  Perform hydrographic sampling in the vicinity of the above ADCP mooring in order to calibrate the mooring equipment.
  13. Perform a CTD transect along a Stonehaven AlterEco section (going west from 2° E).

Procedure

On sailing, Scotia will carry out test deployments of the CTD and carousel around the Buchan Deep, using the standard deployment procedures (10 m soak); sampling procedures will also be rehearsed at the test station. Scotia will then make passage to the start of the JONSIS long term monitoring section to carry out sampling with the CTD and carousel water sampler.  On completion of the JONSIS section, passage will be made to the mooring location on the JONSIS line, where the ADCP in the AL-200 will be deployed.

On completion, passage will be made to the ADCP mooring site on the Fair Isle – Munken (FIM) section, where the ADCP mooring will be recovered and a CTD profile performed. Scotia will then stay on site while the data is downloaded and the mooring refurbished for re-deployment. Scotia will then make her way to FIM-08 for water sampling for phytoplankton and bacteria (time permitting) before sailing to the western end of the Nolso – Flugga (NOL) section.

Water samples and CTD profiles will be taken along the NOL section. Scotia will then proceed to the FIM section to carry out standard CTD and water sampling along that line.  Along the standard sections water samples will be taken at a subset of stations for bacterial work by HWU visitors.  After the FIM section Scotia will sail to the mooring location on the Faroe – Cape Wrath (FCW) line (NWZE) where the mooring will be recovered and CTD profile performed. Scotia will then make her way to the eastern end of the Stonehaven CTD line and make her way back west along the line performing CTD profiles.

Further Information

The post The Scotia went to CTD to see what she could ADCP appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Knowing your parasites – inside and out

Wed, 2017-09-20 10:00

Ensuring Scotland’s marine environment is managed effectively and sustainable is crucial for future generations – and this includes, literally, all creatures great and small.

To support this, in September,  representatives from Marine Scotland, Aberdeen University and the University of Cape Town hosted a two day MASTS-funded workshop in Aberdeen focussing on “Parasites of Commercially Important Marine Fish Species and their Potential as Population Biological Tags”.

The workshop comprised of a day of laboratory-based practical parasite screening work utilising cod and haddock kindly collected by colleagues on a recent research survey on MRV Scotia.  The laboratory based practical was carried out at the Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen and was followed by a day of presentations at Marine Scotland’s Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen given by invited speakers, including Dr Ken MacKenzie from the University of Aberdeen, Dr Cecile Reed from University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Drs Neil Campbell and Campbell Pert from Marine Scotland. In addition, there were a number of postgraduate students who had the opportunity to share their research with their peers.

Attending this workshop allowed attendees to develop their fish parasitology skills and techniques, and allowed students and early career scientists the opportunity to present their research in the field of marine fisheries parasitology to an International audience of parasite experts in the less intimidating environment of a workshop rather than a large conference. Furthermore, the knowledge gained from the meeting will not only contribute to the attendees’ understanding of a range of fish parasitology issues but will also allow delegates to disseminate information to their peers and the wider MASTS community.

Dr Campbell Pert

 

The post Knowing your parasites – inside and out appeared first on Marine Scotland.

IA2017 – Eutrophication is still a problem in some areas

Mon, 2017-09-18 10:00

Eutrophication graphic

Eutrophication is the result of excessive enrichment of water with nutrients. This can cause accelerated growth of algae (phytoplankton) and plants. This may result in an undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms present and ultimately to a decline in the overall water quality.

Eutrophication is not always a local problem. Water masses continuously move and interact, and the associated transport of nutrients can lead to eutrophication effects away from the source.

Owing to the adverse environmental impacts of eutrophication, OSPAR conducts periodic assessments of the eutrophication status across the OSPAR Maritime Area.

The results of the latest eutrophication assessment (for the period 2006–2014) indicate that eutrophication still occurs in the OSPAR Maritime Area, particularly in areas sensitive to nutrient inputs, such as estuaries, fjords and bights, and in areas affected by river plumes. In particular, there is high eutrophication pressure on the south eastern coast of the Greater North Sea and some localised areas of the Celtic Seas. This is despite the reduced input of nutrients and lower concentrations of nutrients observed in the marine environment.

Although the extent of eutrophication in the OSPAR Maritime Area has continued to improve since 1990, concerns about atmospheric and riverine inputs of nutrients identified in OSPAR’s Quality Status Report 2010 still remain.

The post IA2017 – Eutrophication is still a problem in some areas appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Surveying Scotland’s Priority Marine Features

Fri, 2017-09-15 10:00

Figure 1: 2017 survey areas – Small Isles MPA UWTV Survey Boxes

Duration: 21 September – 10 October 2017

Gear

  • New drop/lander frame + calibration mesh
  • HD TV system + lights
  • Armoured cable + spare + axle stands
  • Stereo TV system 

Background and Objectives

1617A will survey the waters around the Small Isles Marine Protected Area (MPA). The primary objective of this survey is to survey monitoring sites previously visited in 2012-2016 that support Scotland’s Priority Marine Features (PMFs).  Work from these surveys will be used to determine the effect of MPAs established in Scottish waters.  A secondary objective is that the data will contribute to a potential impact (BACI) study once protective measures within the MPA are introduced. If weather permits, after the half landing a further study of sites in and around the South Arran MPA will be conducted to survey monitoring sites previously visited in 2015 and 2016. Specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To conduct further assessments of Funiculina quadrangularis abundance within the Small Isles MPA and areas outside.
  2. To further survey known populations of other priority marine feature (PMF) species within and outside the Small Isles MPA.
  3. To conduct further assessments of PMF abundance within the South Arran MPA and areas outside.

Benthic Survey

UW HDTV surveys of the seabed at various sites inside and outside the Small Isles MPA (Figure 1) and the South Arran MPA (Figure 2) will be carried out. The survey will utilise the newly built modular camera frame (combined drop and lander frame – 2460 × 1900 × 1940 mm, L × W × H) deployed from the aft of the vessel. Species type, species densities and substrate type (assessed visually) will be classified for each video transect post-survey.

Figure 2: 2017 survey areas: South Arran MPA UWTV Survey Boxes.

Further Information

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Trawling in the deep with the Scotia

Wed, 2017-09-13 10:00

Figure 1: 1317S – Shelf slope with approximate position of survey trawl transects.

Duration: 15-28 September 2017

Gear

  • BT 184 Deepwater trawl with 16“ ground-gear and Morgere 1700 kg doors (monkfish)
  • Groundgear Bosom bag for BT184
  • Agassiz trawl

 Objectives

  • To map the composition, distribution and abundance of continental slope species including invertebrates on the deepwater slope west of the Hebrides and Rosemary Bank to depths of 2000 m.
  • To collect temperature at depth during all deepwater hauls using a data storage sensor attached to the trawl headline.
  • To collect samples (genetics and otoliths) for key species for population studies and undertake any other sampling requests, e.g. MSFD litter recording.
  • Continued use of groundgear bag and Agassiz trawl on selected stations to further evaluate gear catchability of deepwater fish species at different depths as well as providing valuable benthic assemblage data.
  • Retrieval of acoustic mooring from Rosemary Bank upon completion of trawling operations. Details of location and instructions for retrieval to be provided to the vessel prior to embarkation.

Procedures

The deepwater slope survey will depart and proceed south through the Minch to the first trawling station on the shelf slope between 500-2000m within statistical rectangle 41E9. The primary objective is to map the composition, distribution and abundance of fish species on the deepwater slope west of the Hebrides from Donegal to the Flannans (55 – 59N) and Rosemary Bank (see Figure 1). Trawling will mainly be at fixed stations at depths of 500, 750, 1000, 1500, 1800 and 2000 m although additional trawls may be undertaken at intermediate depths within selected transects. Trawl duration will typically be one hour and the locations of trawling stations will be provided to the vessel at the commencement of the survey. No CTD deployments will be made, rather a DST (data storage tag) will be deployed onto the trawl headline for the duration of the survey and will provide bottom temperature data for all of the trawls undertaken during the survey. Trawling will be conducted within the hours of daylight. It may on occasion be necessary to trawl at night although it is accepted that this will be the exception rather than the norm and night time will mainly be spent in passage from one sampling area to the next. From all tows the entire catch will be sorted, weighed and length-frequency data collected for all fish species encountered. Benthic invertebrate by-catch will also be recorded. On selected tows a ground gear bag will be attached for benthos sampling. In addition the Agassiz 2 m benthic trawl will be used opportunistically on selected tows during the survey. Additional biological sampling to be carried out on selected species.

Further Information

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Opening the Doors on Coastal Monitoring

Tue, 2017-09-12 10:00

At-sea remote electronic monitoring (REM) system produces large quantities of data; time-stamped sensor records, video footage, and GPS cruise-track coordinates

 

Phytoplankton models

3d printed models of phytoplankton, one of the environmental parameters studied at the Stonehaven site. These models were made by Kevin MacKenzie, Microscopy and Histology Core Facility Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen using templates generated by Dr. Jeffrey Krause from a grant by the US National Science Foundation (Grant OCE-1155663) to support research and education.

Staff at Marine Scotland are busy preparing for Aberdeenshire Doors Open Day on the 16th September.

 

Located in the courtyard of the Tollbooth Museum by Stonehaven harbour between 10am until 4pm, they will be presenting a display about the renowned Scottish Coastal Observatory site located 5km offshore from Stonehaven.

For the last 20 years, environmental factors at sea such as temperature, salinity, nutrients, plankton, ocean acidification have been monitored weekly. The data from this site is much in demand by the scientific community, and others, to help assess the state of coastal ecosystems and to identify impacts of climate change.

There will also be a display about the use of automated image analysis to count and classify fish catches, a task currently undertaken by scientists  at Marine Scotland Science.  Video footage collected from Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) systems from  demersal trawlers are being used to train and test this new approach that utilises convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for  fish segmentation and counting.  There will also be the opportunity for people to get hands on experience with some fish identification.

Why not come along to find out more about the work being done there?

Further Information

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IA2017 – New developments in the way biodiversity is assessed

Mon, 2017-09-11 17:00

Biodiversity graphic

OSPAR is committed to protecting and conserving ecosystems and biodiversity through the management of human activities, guided by an ecosystem-based approach to management.

The development of internationally coordinated biodiversity indicators is a relatively new field for OSPAR. In the Quality Status Report 2010, OSPAR assessed ten ecological quality objectives developed for the North Sea which focused mainly on the interactions between mobile species and human pressures. However, they lacked agreed tools to make a fuller assessment of the health of the key structural and functional building blocks of the ecosystem: the habitats of the seafloor and the water column, their biological communities and the foodweb processes that connect them.

Since 2010, OSPAR scientists and policymakers have developed indicators that can help to assess pelagic and benthic habitats and their communities, and foodwebs. These indicators are assessed for the first time in the Intermediate Assessment 2017 (IA 2017), moving OSPAR towards a more robust regional-scale assessment of ecosystem status. These indicators identify significant changes occurring in plankton communities, which inhabit the water column and are the base of the marine foodweb and have the potential to track food-web structure and function in the ecosystem.

Progress has been significantly boosted through the European Commission’s funding of the EcApRHA (Applying an Ecosystem Approach to (sub) Regional Habitat Assessment) project which has fed into the assessments presented in IA 2017. EcApRHA created opportunities for policy and science representatives to interact and so ensure that project results are fit for OSPAR purposes.

EcApRHA has delivered an action plan to address knowledge gaps which can be built into further indicator development across the OSPAR Maritime Area and so support further indicator development potential. As OSPAR continues to develop its approaches and assessment methods with each additional assessment cycle, understanding of natural and human-induced change in the complex and dynamic marine environment will further improve.

The post IA2017 – New developments in the way biodiversity is assessed appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Who you gonna call? Diagnostics!

Fri, 2017-09-08 10:00

Diagnostics brochure coverYou might not know this, but Marine Scotland is classified as the Scottish National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for crustacean, fish and mollusc diseases within the European Union.

So what does that mean? Well, in practice it means that we have expertise and knowledge of a wide range of techniques and methods that can be used to diagnose crustacean, fish and mollusc diseases. We also have achieved ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for several of our pathogen identification methods.

Our scientists provide this expertise to both Marine Scotland’s Fish Health Inspectorate, whose role is to maintain the high health status of crustaceans, fish and molluscs within Scotland, but we also offer the service to external companies, as a commercial service.

The expertise we offer for crustaceans, fish and molluscs includes:

Microbiology: the study of all living organisms that are too small to be visible with the naked eye. This involves identifying aquatic pathogens – bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease – and we have an active interest in emerging crustacean, fish and shellfish pathogens, and we are continually developing and improving identification methods.

Histology and Histopathology: the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. This involves a number of different steps and our scientists are responsible for detailed pathological analysis and reporting for diagnostic material, research trials and environmental monitoring. In addition, we have an extensive physical and electronic slide archive containing reference material for a wide range of diseases and conditions in many aquatic species.

Molecular Genetics: the study of the structure and function of genes at a molecular level. A range of molecular methods can be employed to detect and/or identify either DNA or RNA sequences of specific target material. Molecular methods are extremely specific, provide high levels of sensitivity and test results are obtained in a rapid fashion.

Parasitology: the study of parasitic organisms, which involves using a range of diagnostic services such as sample screening, pathogen identification and genetic sequence analysis to identify parasites.

Further Information

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Vacancy – Zooplankton Analyst (Closing date 5 October 2017)

Thu, 2017-09-07 13:00

We are currently seeking applications for a zooplankton biologist 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 undertake routine taxonomic analysis of zooplankton samples in support of monitoring and research programmes.  The post will include participation in research surveys, data entry and ensuring quality control of databases. The post holder will also assist in laboratory management.

Qualifications Required
For jobs in Bands B and C, you must hold a minimum of 3 SCE Higher or A Level qualifications (grades A-C) with one being English. Other qualifications equivalent to these may also be acceptable, if you are in any doubt please contact the Resourcing Officer named at the end of this advert to discuss.

Essential Criteria
1. Experience identifying and counting marine zooplankton using light microscopy techniques
2. Experience of fieldwork, performing sampling activities that can be applied to an inshore coastal ecosystem monitoring trip
3. Experience compiling numeric data for inclusion in reports
4. Good written and oral communication skills
5. A methodological approach to work and good organisational skills
6. Experience working in a laboratory environment and with databases

Desirable Criteria
1. A valid driving licence as you may need to travel with equipment to locations around Scotland and the UK
2. A qualification such as a B.Sc. in biological or environmental science

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 244 3224.

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

 Further information 

Apply for this job

You should read each of the Essential/Desirable 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.

The post Vacancy – Zooplankton Analyst (Closing date 5 October 2017) appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Scottish Plans inspire Canada

Wed, 2017-09-06 10:00

Marine Spatial Plan coverScotland is well placed to take a global lead in the exploitation of marine renewable energy, boasting a substantial resource potential estimated at 25% of Europe’s tidal resource, 25% of its offshore wind resource and 10% of its wave potential. In order to sustainably develop the offshore marine renewable energy industry in Scottish waters, Marine Scotland has devised sectoral marine plans for offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy which take into consideration technical, environmental, social, and economic constraint and opportunity. Scotland has therefore become the first and only nation in the world to development and implement a sectoral marine plan for tidal energy (SMPTE)

Across the Atlantic Ocean resides another region with similar tidal energy resources. The Canadian province of Nova Scotia is home to the highest tidal range fluctuations in the world, measuring in at a maximum of 16 m, subsequently forcing 160 billion tonnes of water through the Bay of Fundy with every flow of the current, approximately four times more volume that every fresh water river in the world combined. This extreme flow of the tides has been estimated to produce approximately 7.4 GW of power in the Bay of Fundy alone. However, despite substantial provincial and federal investments into the Nova Scotia tidal energy sector, only one tidal current turbine (TCT) is currently deployed in Nova Scotia waters. While industry, government, and R&D organizations have worked in tandem to produce numerous insightful resource, environmental, economic, and social studies, the commercial development of the TCT industry remains relatively uncertain.

An outstanding element in the Canadian approach to tidal energy development in comparison to European nations who have successfully implemented offshore renewable energy is the lack of Marine Spatial Planning. This reality peaked the curiosity of government, academic, and industry stakeholders which lead to the execution of research which applied the Scottish sectoral marine planning methodology to the Nova Scotia context. The following article details the output of this research which produced a theoretical SMPTE for Nova Scotia. The paper compares suitable deployment areas emanating from the application of the Scottish methodology to Marine Renewable-energy Areas designated under the Nova Scotia Marine Renewable-energy Act 2015 which did not undertake a strategic siting process.

Stephen Sangiuliano

Further Information

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IA2017 – Marine litter is a problem

Mon, 2017-09-04 10:00

Marine litter graphicOSPAR has assessed the occurrence of marine litter in all regions within its Maritime Area, except for the Wider Atlantic where there is poor data availability.

Marine litter, in particular plastic, is abundant on beaches, in the water column and on the seafloor. Marine litter also affects biota, as indicated by the levels in North Sea fulmar stomachs. The amount of marine plastics being ingested by this seabird species indicates that floating litter in the OSPAR Maritime Area is not decreasing. In addition, OSPAR’s first assessment of seabed litter has shown that litter is widespread on the seafloor across the area assessed, with plastic the predominant material encountered.

There has been no significant change in the amount of plastic recorded on beaches or in fulmar stomachs over the past 10 years. The goal, as stated in the OSPAR Strategy, has therefore not yet been achieved.

The OSPAR Quality Status Report 2010 reported extensive litter problems. OSPAR has since extended marine litter monitoring within its Maritime Area in line with the OSPAR Strategy.

OSPAR’s 2014 Regional Action Plan for the Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in the North-East Atlantic sets out the policy context for OSPAR’s work on marine litter. It also describes the various types of action that OSPAR will undertake over the coming years, and provides a timetable to guide the achievement of these actions.

OSPAR has assessed all regions within its Maritime Area, except for the wider Atlantic due to data availability.

The indicator assessments show that litter, in particular plastic, is abundant on beaches, in the water column and on the sea floor. Marine litter also affects biota, as indicated by the levels in fulmar stomachs. The goal, as stated in the OSPAR strategy has not been achieved yet.

There has been no significant change in the amount of plastic recorded on beaches or fulmar stomachs over the past 10 years.

The OSPAR Quality Status Report 2010 reported extensive litter problems. OSPAR has since extended marine litter monitoring within its Maritime Area in line with the OSPAR Strategy.

OSPAR’s 2014 Regional Action Plan for the Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in the North-East Atlantic sets out the policy context for OSPAR’s work on marine litter. It also describes the various types of action that OSPAR will undertake over the coming years, and provides a timetable to guide the achievement of these actions.

  • Read the Chapter in the Initial Assessment

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Surveying haddock at Rockall with the Scotia

Fri, 2017-09-01 10:00

Figure 1: Survey map showing stations generated for 1217S: Red stratum = 0-150 m depth, green stratum = 150-200 m, blue stratum = 200-250 m and light-blue stratum = 250-350 m. Boxes/polygons represent restricted or closed areas. Closed circles = primary haul positions, open circles = secondary haul positions.

Duration: 2-13 September 2017

Gear 

  • GOV Trawl (BT 137) with ground gear D
  • CTD – Seabird 19+
  • Day grabs

 Objectives

  • To undertake the bottom trawl survey of haddock on Rockall Bank to a depth of 350 m.
  •  To deploy a CTD at selected trawl stations to collect temperature and salinity profiles.
  •  To collect sediment samples at selected stations
  •  To record marine litter at each trawl station for Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

Procedure

The primary objective of this survey is to assess the state of the haddock stock on the Rockall Plateau. The survey employs a semi random stratified design, comprising four sampling strata separated according to depth.  Sampling intensity within each of the four strata reflects the fish density observed in each of these during previous surveys.  Trawling will be carried out during the hours of daylight at randomly selected locations within the 350 m contour.  Forty primary tow positions have been generated and their allocation within each depth stratum is displayed in Figure 1.  The number of stations within each depth strata is as follows: five stations at 0-150 m, 21 stations at 150-200 m, 10 stations at 200-250 m and four stations at 250-350 m. Scotia will undertake a haul within five miles of each station where possible or, failing that, choose an alternative.  A further 22 secondary stations across the various strata have been generated to provide a source of additional stations and/or alternatives should any primary station prove unfishable.  Where time allows additional hauls will be conducted outside our strata (at depth below 350 m).

One haul of 30 minutes duration will be made at each sampling station. Daily start times for survey stations will be at approximately 06:00 hours and continue until approximately 20:00 hours.  The Scanmar system will be used to monitor wing spread, door spread and distance covered during each haul.  A bottom contact sensor will be mounted on the footrope to record the distance of the trawl off the seabed.  Catches will be worked up according to the protocols for International Bottom Trawl Surveys.  A CTD will be deployed at selected trawl stations.

Further Information

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Making scientific slime

Thu, 2017-08-31 10:00

Colin MoffatSo, what did you do at the weekend? I spent a morning making slime!

Feeling a bit like Heston Blumenthal, I added some PVA glue, a few drops of food colouring and a 2% solution of Borax to a plastic bag and a few squishes later and the slime was ready!

The occasion was TechFest Festival in Aberdeen where the Royal Society of Chemistry were using the opportunity to give those visiting the Festival an insight into polymers. We were in one of the teaching laboratories at the Robert Gordon University which, for some of the children who came along, was equally fascinating!

Further Information

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Surveying MPAs with Alba na Mara

Wed, 2017-08-30 10:00

FIGURE 1: 2017 Stereo Camera Survey: Survey boxes with different VMS characteristics around: (A) Lochinver and (B) North Minch/Skye.

Duration: 31 August – 19 September 2017

Fishing Gear

  • New drop/lander frame + calibration mesh
  • HD TV system + lights
  • Armoured cable + spare + axle stands
  • Stereo TV system

Objectives

Programme 1517A will survey the waters around Lochinver and North Minch/Skye to collect stereo video imagery of Funiculina quadrangularis within survey boxes with different VMS characteristics.  In addition, 1517A will also aim to survey around the Small Isles Marine Protected Area (MPA).  The primary objective of this survey is to survey monitoring sites previously visited in 2012-2016 that support Scotland’s Priority Marine Features (PMFs).  Work from these surveys will be used to determine the effect of MPAs established in Scottish waters.  A secondary objective is that the data will contribute to a potential impact (BACI) study once protective measures within the MPA are introduced. Specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To survey known Funiculina quadrangularis habitat using the stereo camera system within survey boxes with different VMS characteristics.
  2. To conduct further assessments of Funiculina quadrangularis abundance within the Small Isles MPA and areas outside.
  3. To further survey known populations of other priority marine feature (PMF) species within and outside the Small Isles MPA.

Stereo Camera System

Underwater stereo video of Funiculina quadrangularis within survey boxes with different VMS characteristics (Figure 1) will be captured using two HD cameras attached to the drop frame. Post-survey analysis will provide 3D length measurements of specimens encountered along each drift transect.

Benthic Survey 

Survey operations will take place between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00 (all times BST). There will be a change of scientific staff at the half landing in Mallaig 9/10 September.

Operations

UW HDTV surveys of the seabed at various sites inside and outside the Small Isles MPA (see Figure 2) will be carried out. The survey will utilise the newly built modular camera frame (combined drop and lander frame – 2460 × 1900 × 1940 mm, L × W × H) deployed from the aft of the vessel. Species type, species densities and substrate type (assessed visually) will be classified for each video transect post-survey.

FIGURE 2: 2017 Survey boxes in and around the Small Isles MPA

Further Information

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Keeping track at Armadale: Last update from the tracking project

Tue, 2017-08-29 10:00

The tagging at Armadale ended on 25 August with no further salmon tagged over the last 12 days. This suggested to us that the grilse run had finished.

We will recover and download the receivers in due course, to see how many of and where the tagged fish were registered and a project report should be published by the end of March 2018, which we will notify through this blog.

Our thanks go to the Armadale operation, independent observers and scientists for their efforts across the difficult netting period.

Further Information

 

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IA2017 – Mixed signals for marine mammals

Mon, 2017-08-28 10:00

Marine mammals graphic

The abundance and condition of marine mammals, as top predators, can help indicate the state of the marine ecosystem.

As was also the case at the time of the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), harbour seal and grey seal populations are generally stable or increasing in most assessed areas although some harbour seal populations are declining in specific regions. In contrast, populations of coastal bottlenose dolphin declined during the 19th and 20th centuries, and numbers have remained low but stable into the 21st century in some areas.

By-catch of harbour porpoise is considered one of the main human pressures on this species. However, there are high levels of uncertainty in estimates of harbour porpoise by-catch rates.

As relatively long-lived species, understanding trends in cetacean populations requires long time series on a large scale. In the future, OSPAR aims to combine pressure assessments (e.g. noise and contaminants) with impacts on marine mammals.

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