Scottish Government Blogs

August 20, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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New Publications on Marine Renewable Energy Developments

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have recently completed two reports relating to marine renewable energy developments and their potential impact on the environment.  These reports offer a risk assessment of the interaction between marine renewable devices and the diving birds and megafauna in the area.

The first report, Commissioned Report No. 773. A Diving Bird Collision Risk Assessment Framework For Tidal Turbines, was funded by Marine Scotland and is available through Marine Scotland and SNH.

The second report, Commissioned Report No. 791. Understanding the potential for marine megafauna entanglement risk from marine renewable energy developments, is available through SNH.

Summaries and links to both reports can be found below.

Commissioned Report No. 773. A Diving Bird Collision Risk Assessment Framework For Tidal Turbines

Marine tidal energy schemes are likely to make a substantial contribution to the mix of future energy sources within Scotland and the UK, but their environmental impacts are poorly understood. For diving seabirds, collisions with tidal turbines represent a potential way in which tidal energy developments may cause population-level impacts

This report describes an approach for assessing the collision risk of diving birds with tidal turbines, known as the exposure time population model (ETPM). The approach explores the collision rate required to achieve a critical level of additional mortality by estimating (i) thresholds of additional mortality for the population at risk of collision (via population modelling) and (ii) the potential time that each individual within the population is at risk of collision (via exposure time modelling).

Apart from the ETPM, there are a number of other models used to assess collision risk of marine wildlife. We currently do not favour any one model when undertaking a collision risk assessment.  All of the available models are likely to have imperfections, and the accuracy of the model predictions is dependent on the quality of the input data. Nonetheless, given the limited knowledge base and poor understanding of the underwater movements of diving birds and their behavioural responses to underwater devices, this approach is considered an appropriate and useful method for assessing collision risk of diving birds.

Commissioned Report No. 791. Understanding the potential for marine megafauna entanglement risk from marine renewable energy developments

This report considers the potential entanglement risk to marine megafauna from moored marine renewable energy developments (MRE).  Existing information relating to entanglement is reviewed, and a qualitative risk assessment was developed to assess relative risk to marine megafauna on the basis of biological (body size, manoeuvrability etc.) and physical (mooring characteristics) risk factors.  Results suggest that MRE device moorings are unlikely to pose a major threat, but that some mooring designs pose a greater relative risk than others.  Recommendations are made to assist developers include relevant information in their development applications.

Article by Drew Milne

August 18, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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World Leading Mammal Acoustic Monitoring Programme in its second year

Proportion of days with Dolphin detections 2013Marine Scotland is currently running a world leading monitoring programme to detect the presence of dolphins and porpoises at 30 sites along the east coast of Scotland. The aim of the programme is to establish the distribution of dolphins and porpoises, providing valuable information on which to base future marine renewable developments.

In May 2014, work began on the second annual deployment of moored CPODs (echolocation click detectors), which detect the presence of dolphins and porpoises.  These are clustered in sets of three at increasing distance from shore, at 10 locations around the coast.  One mooring out each group of three also holds a broadband acoustic logger, which records ambient noise levels, as well as dolphin whistles.  Analysis of whistles allows identification of dolphins to species level.

Last year, porpoises were detected at most sites every day, and at the Fraserburgh site, porpoises were detected for an average of 19 hours.  However, the known aggressive interactions between dolphins and porpoises mean that porpoises were not detected as often in areas that bottlenose dolphins are known to visit.

Proportion of days with Porpoise detections 2013

The data will allow assessments to be made about whether planned wind farm developments may affect the broad scale distribution of dolphins and porpoises across the east coast and the ambient noise measurements will also be used to inform Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) noise descriptors. The noise measurements are also being analysed by the National Physical Laboratory as part of a project developing underwater soundscapes.

Dr Kate Brookes, the leader of this project commented: “This project is ambitious in scale; monitoring the whole east of Scotland simultaneously.  It will provide the first broad scale data on how and when dolphins and porpoises use particular areas.  Analyses from last year’s deployments are ongoing, but show that porpoises use many areas of the east coast every day.  They also seem to avoid areas where dolphins spend more time, presumably to avoid the well documented aggressive interactions seen between the two species.”

(Attached maps compiled using data from moored CPODs)

August 18, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Various Vessel-based Vacancies: Marine Scotland Compliance (closing date 26 September)

There are a number of vacancies within Marine Scotland Compliance, all of which are based on Marine Patrol and Research Vessels:

Motorman Full-time -  Scottish Government – Various – Motorman:
The duties of our Motormen include assisting the ships Engineers in the safe and efficient maintenance of all on-board plant and equipment; maintaining the cleanliness of machinery spaces, checking oil and water levels, assisting with bunkering operations and garbage, disposals and also ensuring that safety procedures are adhered to at all times.

Second Engineer Full-time -  Scottish Government – Various – Second Engineer (Chief Certificate):
The duties of our Second Engineers include assisting the Chief Engineer in the safe and efficient operation and maintenance of all on-board plant and equipment; ensuring the ship is available at all times to complete its tasking; monitoring, preparing, testing and maintenance of all plant and machinery; allocation and supervision of the work of the 3rd Engineer, Motorman and Electrical Officer; and also ensuring that safety procedures are adhered to at all times.

Electrical Officer Full-time -  Scottish Government – Various – Second Engineer (2nd Certificate):
The duties of the Electrical Officer include assisting in the safe and efficient operation of the vessels machinery and electrical plant by carrying out planned maintenance and running repairs. Test and control alarm and monitoring systems. Also to maintain adequate supply of electrical stores and spares.


Cook / Steward Full-time -  Scottish Government – Various – Cook Steward:
The duties of Cook / Steward include preparation and cooking of all meals, assisting the Chief Steward with preparing daily menus when necessary, cleaning the galley and food storage areas and maintaining a high standard of hygiene at all times.

August 15, 2014
by SG Admin
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Content Marketing – What Does It Mean?

Natalya Ratner – Senior Digital Marketing Manager – International – @NatalyaRatner

Content marketing is the hot new digital thing, but the concept goes back centuries.

According to Wikipedia, August Oetker sold small packets of his baking soda with recipes printed on the back as early as 1891. Michelin developed the Michelin Guide in 1900 to help drivers on the road with accommodation and travel tips (it has since become the badge of honour restaurateurs covet around the world).

These are just a couple of examples of offering your customers extra value, through content that is engaging, useful or exciting to them. So much that they will then go on to rave about your product to their friends and become very loyal to your brand. The concept has not changed. Well, not much. Continue Reading →

August 14, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine News from other Organisations

Ship noise puts fish in danger

Noise made by passing ships stops eels from using their survival instincts scientists investigating the effects of man-made noise on fish. The study, published in Global Change Biology, found only 38% of the eels that were exposed to ship noise responded to an ambush from a predator compared to 80% in normal ocean conditions. Even those that did react were 25 per cent slower than normal. The research was funded by Defra and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Brought to you by Plymouth Marine Laboratory ( on behalf of the UK Marine Science Coordination Committee.

For more information about the Marine Science Co-ordination Committee, please visit

August 13, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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EIMR International Conference 2014 – Stornoway, Scotland


The EIMR (Environmental Impacts of Marine Renewables) conference was held April 30 – May 1 2014 on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, Scotland, UK. Two hundred scientists from the UK, Europe, and North America came together at the An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway, for two days of oral and poster presentations, with a series of workshops on closely related topics rounding out the week.

This is the second EIMR conference, following a very successful gathering in Kirkwall on Orkney, Scotland, UK, in 2012.  The EIMR conference is rapidly becoming a major international gathering for researchers, regulators, and students who focus on understanding the potential environmental effects of marine energy development.

As wave and tidal energy developments emerge around the world, there continues to be knowledge gaps about interactions of these devices with ecological and physical processes in the marine environment.  The emerging marine energy industry needs input from the research community to site and permit their developments; at the same time, these new developments presents the research community with rare opportunities to investigate interactions.  Marine Scotland Science and Planning & Policy Division staff and supervised PhD students had a strong presence at the conference.

You may access copies of the slides and posters below:

MS staff

  • Practical Experience of Sectoral Planning for Marine Renewable Energy Development in Scotland – Ian Davies and David Pratt, Marine Scotland Science

Sectoral marine planning (SMP) for marine renewables is providing a foundation for the development of these new offshore industries.  The planning process combines technical analyses of opportunities and constraints, together with broad public consultation to ensure that resultant Plans are a robust basis for sustainable development.  Practical experience has emphasised the importance of using the best available data relating to the available resource, environmental characteristics, and current uses.  A number of examples were described for which data improvements are needed.

  • New Perspectives on Fisheries: Combining the Distribution of Inshore and Offshore Commercial Fisheries in Scotland. – Andronikos Kafas

Scotland’s seas support diverse commercial fisheries, including both inshore and offshore fishing fleets. The offshore fleet (overall vessel length ≥15m) is covered by Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) offering bi-hourly location data which can be linked to landings information. On the other hand, Scottish inshore fishing vessels do not carry VMS, and their activity was recently mapped using an interview based approach with fishery stakeholders (the ScotMap project). Increasing competition over marine space highlighted the need for comprehensive spatial information on fishing activities. Here we describe how combining commercial and stakeholders’ data can provide a Scotland-wide spatial representation of fisheries to assist in marine planning for renewable energy, conservation and fisheries management.

  • Salmon in Scottish Coastal Waters: Recent Advancements in Knowledge in Relation to their Interactions with Marine Renewable Energy Installations – Jason Godfrey

There are concerns about interactions between Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) and migratory fish, in particular Atlantic salmon. Marine Scotland Science (MSS) is attempting to gain information in key areas. Firstly it is necessary to obtain information about which populations of salmon occupy which coastal areas. To this end MSS has been undertaken a programme of genetic characterisation of regional variation in salmon, based on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, in order to assign fish intercepted at sea to their likely region of origin. In addition to obtaining geographical distribution of migrating salmon, information about the depths at which they are swimming in coastal waters is vital in the assessment of potential impact of MRE devices. In May-June 2013 MSS fitted pop-up satellite tags to adult salmon caught on the north coast, recording water depth and temperature at regular intervals, and providing a single geographic location following detachment.

  • Modelling Offshore Wind Farms off the East Coast of Scotland using the Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM). – Rory O’Hara Murray

The key points of his poster included : (i) The tidal and wind driven currents were modelled around two large offshore wind farms, with large gravity base foundations. (ii) The results showed that large gravity base foundations can influence currents; mainly within their immediate vicinity, but also in the far field. (iii) This could have implications on mixing and sediment transport within the region (future work).

  • Recent experience of CIA in renewables consenting in Scotland – Dr Ian Davies

Cumulative Impact Assessment arises under EIA Directive and Natura Regulations.  The presentation concentrated on CIA of east coast wind farms and port developments on mammals (SACs) and seabirds (SPAs).  Messages emphasised the need to plan for CIA early in the application process, and to try to develop consistent assessment processes across developments.

  • Overview of survey, data collection and data analysis challenges – Dr Jared Wilson

Survey design, data collection and data analysis at proposed wave or tidal stream development sites can be challenging due to their small size, dynamic conditions and high spatial and temporal variation in seabird abundance. The application of standard approaches developed for large areas of open water may not be appropriate and result in poor ability to characterise a site or detect effects post-construction. This workshop aims to discuss the challenges faced and identify practical solutions .

  • Input Information for Salmon Collision Risk Modelling – Ross Gardiner

PhD student (supervised by MS staff)

  • A Combination of Empirical and Modelled Datasets Reveals Associations between Deep Diving Seabirds and Oceanographical Processes at Fine Spatiotemporal Scales in a High Energy Habitat. – James Waggitt
  • Marine Mammals and Tidal Turbines: What are the Issues of Concern and how are they being Resolved? – Ben Wilson

The oral presentation, papers and posters presented at EIMR 2014 are hosted at the TETHYS website. Each paper or poster is listed by first author, along with a brief description. Most papers include an extended abstract, video of presentation slides, and an audio file of the presentation, all attached as downloadable pdfs. A few papers and sessions do not have complete audio or video files. Some posters are presented as downloadable pdfs as well.

Input information for salmon collision risk modelling – Ross Gardiner

Recent experience of CIA in renewables consenting in Scotland – Dr Ian Davies

Overview of survey, data collection and data analysis challenges – Dr Jared Wilson

Article by Andronikos Kafas

August 12, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Update on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) consultation

The Government response to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) consultation on proposals for the UK monitoring programmes has now been published. You can find it at:

The UK Marine Strategy Part Two has also been published at: This provides a description of the UK’s MSFD marine monitoring programmes.

The Directive requires Member States to take measures to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) for their seas by 2020. GES involves protecting the marine environment, preventing its deterioration and restoring it where practical, while using marine resources sustainably. For the UK, the Directive is part of a package of policies, united by our vision for ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. The Directive’s aims are consistent with this vision and current policies, such as the implementation of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, and the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy will play a major role in helping us achieve GES.

The joint consultation between Defra, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government was held between 8 January and 2 April 2014. The consultation sought views on the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). We are grateful for all the comments we received.

You can see further details on the Directive:

If you have further questions, please contact Defra:

Next Steps

A future consultation will be held to cover proposals for the UK programmes of measures for achieving GES early 2015.

August 12, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) Launch

© Scottish Aquaculture

Aquaculture currently contributes an aggregate economic impact of over £1,300 million per annum to the Scottish economy. There exists, nonetheless, considerable untapped potential in Scotland for increased production of high quality aquaculture products. Following the funding of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) on 20th February 2014 and a consortium meeting on April 28th the formal launch of the SAIC has taken place today, Friday 20th June, at the Royal Highland Show. The launch was announced by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and was attended by SAIC Board members, representatives from the funding bodies SFC, SE and HIE and the media.

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) will provide transformational change in the relationship between the aquaculture industry, the research community and Government to overcome these issues and release Scotland’s potential. Investment in the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre will help transform aquaculture’s already substantial contribution to the Scottish economy, with many of the benefits concentrated in fragile rural communities. The Scottish Government has adopted industry targets for increased production. In the salmon industry alone, meeting these targets would contribute an additional £500 million to the Scottish economy per year. If we consider the wider sector, including trout, shellfish, supply chain and all supporting businesses, then the overall financial contribution to the Scottish economy could exceed £1 billion. SAIC will bring together the key players in this strategically important industry, focusing on removing current and future obstacles, creating wealth and long term employment.

For news and announcements of future events go to

Article by Andronikos Kafas

August 8, 2014
by Ian Thomson
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Isle of Coll Mobile Phone Project

Figure 1 - Aerial photo of Coll

Known for its sandy beaches, dark skies and the home to Katie Morag, the Isle of Coll is entering the digital revolution – with its own mobile phone mast.  The project will see the island gain mobile phone coverage for the first time in its history and will be the first Scottish island with 4G (fourth generation) mobile communications technology.  This pioneering community project has been developed by the Scottish Government’s Demonstrating Digital Programme working in partnership with the community run organisation Development Coll and Vodafone.

Figure 2 - Map of Argyll & Bute showing Isle of Coll

The £165,000 project funded by the Scottish Government has been led by Derek Graham, Programme Manager for the Demonstrating Digital programme.  Initiated in June 2013, construction has now commenced and it will see the installation of a rock anchored 15m high lattice mast at Cnocan Na Ban in the middle of the island.  The mast will be owned by Development Coll who are responsible for the annual running costs with Vodafone providing the initial mobile phone service to the island.

The mobile service is expected to go live at the end of August when residents and visitors to the island will be able to access mobile services as well as 4G mobile ultra-broadband internet access to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones and to other mobile devices.  Conceivable applications beyond voice and text services include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3-D television and cloud computing.  This service will make a huge difference to the community, businesses and visitors to the island as well as for critical emergency services on the island such as the local GP and fire and rescue.

Figure 3 - Site of Isle of Coll mobile phone mast

Partnership and collaboration have been a key aspect of this venture with all parties pulling together to achieve the goal.  The landowner is providing the mast site for no rent, Vodafone is providing the mobile equipment free of charge with Mono consulting supporting the initial feasibility study.  Perhaps most importantly, prime beneficiaries of the mobile service are covering the annual running costs.  These include NHS Argyll & Bute, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Project Trust and Argyll and Bute Council.

This project is important as the Scottish Government is committed to achieving improved mobile coverage across Scotland.  Whilst the project will extend mobile phone coverage to the island for the first time it will also inform and test an alternative model of community ownership of a mobile mast in an area not previously seen as commercially viable by mobile operators – which is the main focus of the demonstrating digital programme by testing new technologies and business models to accelerate our ambition to be a world class digital nation by 2020.

Figure 4 - Isle of Coll cable route

The development of future-proofed mobile and fixed networks will be essential to realise our ambition of World Class connectivity by 2020.  Integral to this work is the testing of models – such as this project – which could, in the future, potentially be replicated in non-commercial areas or areas ultimately not covered by the UK Government’s Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP).

August 8, 2014
by SG Admin
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Bowled Over

Alison Ross – Senior Marketing Contracts and Publishing Manager

Hard on the heels of the huge success of the 5-a-side charity football match on 30 May on behalf of the Lifeboat Fund, The APS Group is now sponsoring a Commonwealth Games inspired ten-pin bowls fundraiser.

Over £2,500 was raised from the football match and we’re hoping to match or better that with the bowling competition. It will take place on Saturday 30 August from 2pm to 6pm at Murrayfield Indoors Sports Club.  Teams of five and eight or individuals who want to be part of a team are invited to enter at a cost of £5 per head. Don’t worry if you don’t have shoes – they’ll be provided for players.

There will be team and spot prizes and a tombola and refreshments to boot. The club also has a bar which will be open to everyone attending.  Anyone wishing to participate should contact Angela Saunders at Help us to continue to support this great cause – you never know when you might need them!