Scottish Government Blogs

April 20, 2015
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Fiona Hyslop: Valuing Scotland’s Historical Environment

Scotland’s historic environment is globally recognised for its quality and diversity.  From the cotton mills of New Lanark, to the isle of Iona, and battlefield of Bannockburn, there are stories to tell and places to explore.

Our heritage assets are important, not just for the benefits they bring to the economy and the positive impact on our wellbeing, and this was reflected in conversations I had this morning when I met with the Board of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) at Forth Valley College in Alloa.

Historic Environment Scotland board with Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop

The Board are working with Historic Scotland and RCAHMS as they prepare for the creation of Historic Environment Scotland and today was my first opportunity to meet with the Board and learn more about their plans.

It was hugely encouraging to see so many people out, attending events, to celebrate and mark world heritage day on Saturday. If we are to preserve our world heritage sites for future generations, it’s vital that that we build on and maintain interest in these sites.

Celebrating World Heritage Day - Fiona Hyslop at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh

Our Place in Time sets out a vision for our historic environment and was developed through collaboration with the sector. Historic Scotland and RCAHMS are already involved in delivering the Strategy with partners across the sector and I have no doubt HES will continue and build on this work.

I look forward to seeing HES champion our historic environment.  For example, by providing training opportunities which ensure we retain traditional skills and provide employment for young people, through the grants which enable historic and archaeological sites, many at the heart of communities, to undergo investigation, repair or conservation work.  Through working with partners to manage and promote our globally important World Heritage sites.

The new HES Board face an exciting and challenging year of change.  Reflecting on today’s meeting, I’m confident that the Board are prepared to face that challenge.  They will support Historic Scotland and RCAHMS during their transition to HES and they will ensure the Strategy is integral to the delivery of HES activities.  I look forward to working with the Board and to continuing to meet people, of all ages, who are enthusiastic about our historic environment.

April 20, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Tracking across the Atlantic

Last year, Marine Scotland Science collaborated with Jim Manning at the NOAA North East Fisheries Science Centre, USA to obtain some low cost trackers for ocean drifters that they released.

Using the same tracking technology, an education outreach project in the USA has launched a number of unmanned sailboats, one of which is currently heading towards Scotland. The sailboat is being tracked by hundreds of school children in New Jersey who prepared it for its launch back in November 2014 and the hope is that it will come ashore in a safe, accessible location, where it can be taken to a local school.

Why not check where it is now and see if it’s heading towards you?

Further Information

April 18, 2015
by blog administrator
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Fiona Hyslop: Celebrating World Heritage Day

Fiona Hyslop at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh

Today (Saturday April 18) is World Heritage Day. People all over the globe are encouraged to take a moment to appreciate the world’s many cultural and natural places of great significance that connect us to our past and contribute to the present and our future.

There are just over a thousand sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage List – an impressive roll call of places that have been agreed to have internationally significant cultural or natural heritage, whose outstanding universal value transcends national boundaries and are important for all of us and for future generations.

Places as unique and diverse as the Acropolis in Athens, Mount Etna, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China, the Kremlin, Vatican City and the Taj Mahal are some of the best known among 1,007 World Heritage Sites on UNESCO’s prestigious list.

Being placed on the list is a high accolade. So I am immensely proud that Scotland has five World Heritage Sites on the list and is considered to be among the world’s most important historic places.

View out to sea from St Kilda World Heritage Site

They are St Kilda – a group of remote islands and sea stacs 100 miles off the west coast of Scotland; the heart of Neolithic Orkney– one of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe; the Antonine Wall – the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire running right across central Scotland; the old and new towns of Edinburgh – one of the world’s most beautiful cityscapes; and New Lanark – a restored 18th century cotton mill village situated in the narrow gorge of the River Clyde and renowned for the enlightened management of the social pioneer Robert Owen.

Stenness standing stones, part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site

With five in its repertoire, Scotland has more World Heritage Sites than 98 countries on the UNESCO list, including Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, and we are seeking to add another site to Scotland’s tally.

UNESCO are currently considering a bid for the iconic Forth Bridge to become Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site.

To have the bridge inscribed as a World Heritage Site would be a tremendous accolade for the bridge itself, for the local communities it spans and for Scotland as a whole. The bridge was nominated by the UK for inscription last year – in itself that process was a celebration of our country’s incredible engineering pedigree and ingenuity. We will find out the result at the world heritage committee, which is meeting in Bonn in June and July. While we cannot anticipate the result I am of course hopeful that the nomination will be a success.

The Scottish Government has taken significant steps to protect our historic and cultural legacy by working with a wide range of partners to create an all-embracing strategy for the whole of our historic environment, Our Place in Time. The strategy provides a framework for all parts of the sector and beyond to work together to achieve a lasting legacy for our rich historic surroundings.

Each of our five world heritage sites is carefully managed through a tailored plan that determines how each site will be managed for the future.

Historic Scotland’s staff work with many others to ensure each site is carefully preserved and protected, and that the people of Scotland and our visitors from around the world are given opportunities to learn more about our world heritage sites and how they can help to preserve their cultural and natural heritage.

World Heritage Day is being marked today with events in Edinburgh, Skara Brae, Tamfourhill and Kinneil to encourage families to find out more out the World Heritage Sites that have helped shape our nation.

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.

But world heritage is increasingly threatened with destruction, not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions. In too many countries, precious heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed due to conflict, poor safeguarding or a simple failure to prioritise their care for future generations – and more sites still are under threat.

As part of that commitment the Scottish Government, through Historic Scotland, is a partner in the ambitious five-year Scottish Ten project, with The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and non-profit organisation CyArk. The project uses cutting edge 3D technologies to create exceptionally accurate digital models of Scotland’s five World Heritage sites and five international heritage sites, which include Sydney Opera House and Mount Rushmore, amongst others. As well as highlighting the importance of the sites being digitally recorded, the project serves the practical purpose of allowing for the identification of conservation issues and rates of decay, which in turn helps us to plan for better conservation and management of these important monuments.

This Government is committed to ensuring we protect and conserve our world heritage sites for our future generations. World Heritage Day is an important opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

April 17, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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The Scotland River Temperature Monitoring Network

Water temperature (Tw) is of critical importance to aquatic ecosystems and particularly to the growth and survival of freshwater fish. Consequently, there are concerns over rising and more extreme temperatures. Currently, there are limited long-term, quality controlled Tw data available in Scotland. In recognition of this gap in knowledge and capacity, the Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Scotland (CAMERAS) Freshwater Monitoring Action Plan (Freshwater MAP) recommended that a national river temperature monitoring network should be established.

Work on the Scotland River Temperature Monitoring Network (SRTMN) began in 2013, when Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and the University of Birmingham received NERC CASE funding for a PhD position to help support the initiative.

The objectives of the SRTMN network are to:

  • Characterise spatial and temporal variability in river temperature regimes for salmon rivers across Scotland
  • Identify the most sensitive locations and time-periods for high temperatures
  • Improve understanding of the landscape controls on Tw
  • Develop large scale spatial models to predict future Tw
  • Assess options for mitigation and adaptation strategies for high temperature
  • Provide a long-term evidence base on changing river water temperatures in Scotland

Work on the design of the SRTMN (where to monitor) began in 2013 with a detailed analysis of landscape controls i.e. the factors known to influence Tw, such as altitude, river size and land use.

This work ensured that the correct range of sites were selected for monitoring and helped avoid the inclusion of sites with similar characteristics that would provide little additional information to the project.

In summer of 2014, the deployment of dataloggers (temperature monitoring equipment) began and it will be completed by summer 2015.

To make best use of available resources, MSS has worked with fisheries trusts, District Salmon Fishery Boards and CAMERAS partners to deploy and maintain the network.

The deployment of Tw dataloggers and collection of data will continue throughout 2015. These data will be used to characterise thermal regimes and model spatial variability in Tw. The outputs of these models will be used to:

  • Improve understanding of spatial controls on Tw
  • Predict future Tw
  • Identify areas sensitive to climate change
  • Highlight areas where bankside tree planting may provide beneficial effects by reducing maximum Tw and providing an overall more favourable thermal regime.

Finally, the network will provide a long-term evidence base on the state of Tw in Scottish rivers, to inform freshwater management.

Dr Iain A Malcolm & Faye Jackson

Further Information:


April 16, 2015
by SG Admin
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I love the smell of petrol in the morning

Tim Bisset – Senior Marketing Manager – Safer Marketing   @timbisset

Now I’ll admit, my knowledge of the biking world was pretty sketchy a year ago when I wrote the brief for a brand new campaign on motorbike safety.  Leathers….tattoos…..hell raising down Route 66….all the old clichés come to mind.  So how do a bunch of marketing geeks used to talking about ‘umbrella strategies’ and ‘segmenting the target audience’ really get to grips with the alien world of biking?  Well baby, strap up, hold on and I’ll take you on a ride like never before…

Step 1:  Get your leathers on

Although bikers only make up 1% of road traffic, they represent 13% of fatalities on our roads.  This statistic needs to change.  First we needed to understand who these bikers were.  Without wishing to sound like an X-Factor contestant, we all went on a ‘journey’ to find out what makes them tick, and it was pretty eye-opening.  One thing is certain – the average biker doesn’t really exist.  For every hairy old rocker with a colourful past rocking out to Steppenwolf, you’ll find a sensible suited accountant who reveals himself to be a petrol head at weekends.  But what bonds them all is their complete love of biking.  When we interviewed bikers at the start of the project, it was obvious we had never seen a happier bunch of guys who couldn’t help but smile when they talked about their hobby.  There is a real sense of bonding and camaraderie with this audience and so we needed to create something that reflected the sheer joy of getting on their bike.  And as ever, we needed to do this in a ‘non-government’ way…

Step 2:  No finger wagging from ‘The Man’

One of the necessities of working on road safety is you’re generally telling people not to do something and – as our website says – “Don’t Risk It”.  However, our bikers already know they are doing something highly risky.  They accept that risk, think they are safe riders, and deflect the grisly truth of some horrific accidents by claiming, “it won’t happen to me”.  Our first thought was to rename our website  Catchy though that was, we realised we had to find a single, easy , actionable behaviour change that wasn’t just about slowing down, and communicate it in a way they would want to share with their fellow bikers.

Step 3:  It’s all about the left handers

Research told us that 1 in 3 fatal biking accidents occur on left hand bends (if you misjudge them, you’re more likely to hit oncoming traffic).  We decided that if we can just focus the bikers minds on taking it easy on ‘left handers’ (…that’s biker-speak, kids….) then we really could start to alter that stat and make Scotland’s bikers safer.

Step 4:  Teenage Kicks…are hard to beat

So how to get the message across in a way that will resonate, engage and not appear patronising?  By creating our very own ‘Hangover’ inspired film of course.  Live Fast Die Old follows the adventures of Badger, Turbo and Z-Boy (and Daisy the Alpaca) who are still living like there’s no tomorrow but are able to do so because they’ve spent a lifetime taking it easy on those left-handers.

Step 5:  Live Fast Die Old

The film launched on YouTube on April 10 and is supported by a dedicated Facebook page housing all campaign content. We’ve got a full biker seasons worth of exciting social media content throughout the summer, so watch our film and sign up at facebook/livefastdieoldscotland to enjoy the ride.

Fun Film Facts

1. ‘Daisy’ the Alpaca  was actually a male Alpaca called Joe.  He’s going to need some therapy later in life…

2. Yes, they really were naked (“my eyes…!!”).

3. The actor playing Turbo had some real tattoos that had to be covered up.

4. Police biker ‘stunt doubles’ were used to film the road scenes – getting helmets and leathers to fit them and the actors was problematic to say the least.

So – was I inspired to get a tattoo at the end of all of this?  Collar me on the next staff night out and all will be revealed…


April 16, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Scotland learns from the 3rd Scottish Space Symposium

Last week, the 3rd Scottish Space Symposium took place at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Although primarily a meeting for those interested in remote sensing of the earth (mostly using satellites), the event was a chance for natural environment scientists to meet with space scientists and technologists, and to network and collaborate, especially in creating links to industry. Marine Scotland Science was represented by MarCRF Research Fellow Jacqui Tweddle.

The event kicked off with a selection of natural environment scientists  presenting overviews of their research, providing a great opportunity to introduce the work to an audience who would not usually attend the same conferences, as the attendees included those studying terrestrial or marine environments, or the atmosphere. Keynote speakers told us about what satellites are out there, what data is available, and how some of the data is or could be used, such as the potential to use satellites to police for illegal fishing activity in the marine protected area around the UK’s Pitcairn Islands, as the area is too remote and large for conventional boat-based enforcement.

After a great networking lunch, industry representatives told us about some of the (mostly small) businesses in Scotland working in the satellite industry. This provided some ideas about future collaborations – watch this space!

In a final session, the natural environment scientists pitched challenges and project ideas to the group, receiving useful feedback and invaluable advice from the other attendees, in particular from the space technologists. Jacqui pitched a challenge on behalf of Marine Scotland Science – “How could we use satellites to help with monitoring our waters for Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive?” I came away with lots of advice, and ideas on what to do and where to go next.

All in all, the event was very interesting, and provided a great opportunity to meet with remote sensing experts and space technologists, and others working in similar fields. A day well spent!

The event was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) and the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications.

More Information

April 15, 2015
by Fiona Comrie
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Food Standards Scotland launched – first Board meeting 22 April

Food Standards Scotland launched on 1 April 2015. You can read about FSS and see advice for consumers and business at our website:

Stakeholders and members of the public are invited to attend the first FSS Board meeting, to be held at FSS offices in Aberdeen at 9 a.m. on 22 April 2015.

On the agenda is an update from FSS Chief Executive, Geoff Ogle, and Board Chair, Ross Finnie. The Board will also discuss papers Governance of FSS, the Diet and Nutrition remit, as well as a paper on developing the Food Hygiene Information Scheme.

The FSS Board is committed to holding meetings in public. Agenda and meeting papers are available on the website. For more information, or to let us know if you would like to attend, please contact, or call 01224 285100.

April 15, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine Scotland staff clean up: 15th April

Another lunchtime, another pile of rubbish.

Good work everyone in the heat and under the glare of the camera’s lens. Following editing our “film” is expected to go on our Marine Scotland You Tube channel, so keep a look out for it!

Last week’s figures combined (grand totals):

  • 5 bin bags of general waste (55)
  • Collecting effort 210 minutes (2,440)
  • Bottles and cans recycled 70 (2,318)
  • Other, including – 1 syringe, 1 scooter, 1 heavy rope fender, 1 traffic cone, 1 plastic rake and 1 pallet.


April 13, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Biologists update from Shieldaig: April 2015

Andy and Jim setting off on a plankton-tow on a midgey morning at the field station.

Andy and Jim setting off on a plankton-tow on a midgey morning at the field station.

Welcome to the first Biologist’s Update, designed to provide more information about the work that Marine Scotland Science are doing at the field station at Shieldaig.

Shieldaig is an amazing place for a biologist to work, situated by the shores of Loch Torridon where some of the most spectacular mountains in Britain meet the sea, and surrounded by iconic Scottish species: red deer, white tailed sea eagle, otter and salmon. Not forgetting, of course, the chief focus of our work at the field station, the sea trout.

Day to day and month to month, we see the seasons changing in this wild part of Scotland, and many of our tasks at Shieldaig reflect these seasons. In late winter we stock the river with trout eggs from our broodstock, placing them in artificial nests that mimic natural spawning redds. Later in the spring/summer we will count the number of fry emerging from these nests and monitor their progress. Spring also sees the trapping and tagging of seaward migrating sea trout smolts, which allows us to assess their return rates. We do this by monitoring the return of sea trout in late summer/autumn as fish return to the river to overwinter and reproduce, if mature. In late summer we also revisit the fry to assess their progress through to parr stages. In autumn we monitor the adult ‘silver’ eels leaving the river system on their seaward migration. Late autumn is the start of the cycle of life for trout as fish are breeding in the river, while our work cycle begins again in the late winter.

Some work continues throughout the year. For example every week we collect our plankton samples to estimate salmon louse larval densities. In these samples we also see the seasons come and go. Spring arrives in the sea, in the form of copepod blooms, even before the leaf buds have burst on the trees, and many other plankton life forms make their arrival and departure at predictable times through the year.

Male eels in a bucket

Male eels in a bucket

Scientists have worked here for many years, but the fish still have the capacity to surprise us. The summer and autumn of 2014 have been remarkable in terms of the silver eel migration at Shieldaig. These are mature eels leaving the river on their mysterious migration to their still unknown breeding place, and graveyard, somewhere near the Sargasso Sea. The ‘autumn’ run this year actually began in early July, two and half months ahead of the usual schedule. The run continued through into December and we recorded our highest ever biomass of migrating eels. Notable was the high proportion of larger female fish in the run. It is possible that the very mild winter of 2013/14, sandwiched between two warm summers provided good growing conditions for eels and allowed more of them to reach a threshold condition which permits migration. We monitor eel numbers leaving the Shieldaig river as part of Scotland’s commitment to the EU Regulation seeking to protect the stocks of this endangered species.

Further Information

April 10, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MFV Genesis: Survey 0215H Programme

Duration: 9-18 April 2015

Fishing Gear: Anglerfish Trawl BT 195


  1. To undertake a nationally co-ordinated demersal trawling survey of anglerfish species on Ices IVa Northern North Sea.
  2. To obtain temperature and depth profiles at each trawling station.
  3. To record and map distributions of megrim, four spot megrim and cod.
  4. To collect biological data on Angler, cod, megrim and four spot megrim.


This trawl survey follows a set of protocols drawn up by an Industry Science Survey Planning Group made up of Marine Scotland scientists and fishing representatives.  These protocols share much in common with the sampling regimes described in Marine Scotland standing instructions for demersal trawl surveys.

The survey track and sampling locations are shown below.

Anglerfish Survey Charter East Tracks 2015


One haul of 60 minutes duration will be made at each sampling station; trawling operations will occur in waters up to a maximum of 500 m. Daily starting times will be 06:00 and all trawling should be complete by approximately 24:00 each night.  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.

Catches will be worked up according to the protocols for Marine Scotland anglerfish surveys which are similar in principle to Marine Scotland standing instructions.


A mini logger may be deployed on the trawl at each station to monitor salinity, depth and temperature.