Scottish Government Blogs

April 17, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Analytical Unit weekly update – 16 April 2014

This week’s update from the Marine Analytical Unit has been published, featuring an article highlighting the key figures from the provisional Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2013 released yesterday.

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April 16, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Scotland supports Science Superhero Day

On 22 March 2014, 20 volunteers from Aberdeen – including Sarah Hughes from Marine Scotland Science – worked in two shifts to deliver the superhero day at Aberdeen’s Satrosphere. In each session, six scientists from different disciplines attempted to blend into the crowd, not an easy task when wearing a bright red superhero cape and a T-shirt shouting “Talk to me, I’m a scientist”.

April 15, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Good Practice Guide for Underwater Noise Measurement published

A Good Practice Guide for Underwater Noise Measurement has been published, giving guidance on best practice for in-situ measurement of underwater sound, for processing the data, and for reporting the measurements using appropriate metrics.

From a scientific point of view, accurate acoustic measurements are needed for a diverse range of disciplines such as acoustical oceanography, sonar, geophysical exploration, underwater communications, and offshore engineering. However, measurements also have an important and increasing role to play in offshore marine licensing to ensure that good quality, standardised information is included in environmental statements.

At the momenty, measured noise levels are sometimes difficult to compare because different measurement methodologies or acoustic metrics are used, and results can take on different meanings for each different application, leading to a risk of misunderstandings between scientists from different disciplines. Although this Good Practice Guide is not intended as a standard, these guidelines address the need for a common approach, and the desire to promote best practice.

April 15, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Sargasso Sea Commissioners sought

The Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea in March 2014 was open for signature in March 2014. The Declaration provides for the establishment of a Sargasso Sea Commission, composed of distinguished scientists and other persons of international repute committed to the conservation of high seas ecosystems. Initially there will be only five Commissioners to serve on the Commission for a period of three years. The composition of the Commission should aim to reflect a balance of geographic distribution and diverse expertise and experience. The relevant fields of experience include:

  • Ecosystem-based fisheries management
  • Marine spatial planning
  • Oceanography
  • Marine ecology
  • Marine geology
  • Endangered and threatened marine species (eg whales, turtles, eels, birds, etc)
  • Environmental and human use impact assessments
  • Economic evaluation
  • International law and marine policy

Remuneration:
Commissioners serve without remuneration.  Modest funds to cover travel expenses may be made available when it is necessary for Commissioners to attend meetings associated with the Commission Work Programme.

Nomination Process:
Nominations packages are to include a full CV as well as a statement of interest (not to exceed one page) articulating how the nominee’s expertise and experience satisfies the selection criteria.  These should be sent to Dr Kate Killerlain Morrison of the Sargasso Sea Alliance at kmorrison@sargassoalliance.org by 30 April 2014.

If you have other questions related to this notice please contact Louise Savill, Foreign and Commonwealth Office at louise.savill@fco.gov.uk

Brought to you by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (www.pml.ac.uk) on behalf of the UK Marine Science Coordination Committee.

For more information about the Marine Science Co-ordination Committee, please visit www.defra.gov.uk/mscc/.

April 15, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Devil in disguise: A small coral-eating worm may mean big trouble for reefs

New research from the University of Southampton has identified a coral-eating flatworm as a potential threat for coral reefs. The scientists from the University of Southampton, who are based at the Coral Reef Laboratory in the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, published the results of their research in the latest issue of the journal Coral Reefs.

Read the article

Brought to you by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (www.pml.ac.uk) on behalf of the UK Marine Science Coordination Committee.

For more information about the Marine Science Co-ordination Committee, please visit www.defra.gov.uk/mscc/.

April 11, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Otter Onboard in Oban

While talking to a local skipper and carrying out some duties on the South Pier in Oban, Fishery Officer Iain MacEachan found a hungry otter helping himself to some fish!  The otter had climbed through the net, which was hanging from the stern of the skipper’s boat and appeared on deck.  The otter had a look at Iain, and the skipper, then carried on eating the bits of fish still caught in the net.  Having shown that he wasn’t at all shy Iain managed to get a picture of the hungry scamp!
Otter feeding on fish

Otter feeding on fish

April 10, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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ICES Science Fund supports eight innovative projects

From 100 years of Baltic change to improving fisheries management through behavioural economics, ICES (which included members of  Marine Scotland) announces eight projects to be supported by the newly established ICES Science Fund.

“We received many diverse and interesting proposals but focused on projects that will add value to ICES Science Plan, are feasible, and engage both academic and government institutions. Scientists in the early stages of their career were given a preference in the selection process”, explains Yvonne Walther, Chair of ICES Science Committee (SCICOM), which was responsible for selecting the successful proposals.

“Making a selection was hard but the process used SCICOMs wide variety of expertise. What we are doing, in fact, is creating opportunities and leading ICES science into a certain direction in the future”, Walther elaborated.

All projects will have two partners, reflecting shared leadership between academic and government research institutions.

 

April 10, 2014
by Jillian Sime
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Girls into Energy

Since completing her Skills for Work Energy course Jillian Sime is now working at Score Europe, a company specialising in the supply and service of valves and components for the oil and gas industries worldwide. Here, Jillian talks about her experience in studying, training and working in a dynamic energy sector.

 

 

I first wanted to become an engineer when I began the Skills for Work Energy course at Banff and Buchan College (now North East Scotland College) in 2011. I first heard about the course in my second year at Mintlaw Academy when I attended a presentation from a former “energy girl” who had completed the course.

I started Skills for Work Energy (or Girls into Energy as it is known) in my third year alongside other female pupils from my Academy and my eyes were opened to all aspects of the energy industry, including all the variety of jobs on offer.

As well as learning about the different oil extractions and engineering related topics, the course provided us all with the opportunity of building our communication skills. On many occasions the group was required to speak publicly in front of lots of people – this has made me far more confident.

During the two years it took to complete the course and gain my SQA Energy qualification we went on loads of trips and met other girls from local Academies in the area who were also “energy girls” – Turriff, Peterhead, Ellon and Meldrum. Getting together as one large group meant that it was possible for us all to share our knowledge.

One of my highlights was attending the annual Girls Energy conference at Woodbank, Shell’s hotel, conference and leisure facility in Aberdeen. The theme was reducing carbon emissions where we were divided into teams representing biomass, offshore wind and carbon capture. We had to work together to put forward an argument of why our group should be awarded the funding.

I’ve also built a turbine and solar plane which was great fun. I learnt how to use different machines in the College workshop which has helped me a lot since I have joined Score, my employer, in Peterhead. I chose to become an engineer after speaking to other women who had become engineers and listening to how much they enjoy their jobs.

I would recommend the course at North East Scotland College to other girls because you gain experiences that you don’t get with any other class at school. I’ve met a variety of people and seen examples of engineering and technology in action.

I choose to apply to Score because they have a good apprenticeship programme and, after just finishing my first year, I can honestly say it has been great. I have learnt loads of new things which I know will help me out in my future career. I am looking forward to moving into my next department where I will learn even more.

The energy course has been a stepping stone which has helped me find my career path – without doing the course I wouldn’t be in a job that I love.

Fiona Johnston, Apprentice Co-Ordinator at Score Europe comments, “Score Europe are delighted to be a partner in the girls into energy initiative. It is vital to raise the profile and give access to information to the opportunities available within the energy sector for females. It provides the students an insight into the skills required and the wider application to help plan the correct career choice. Score have successfully recruited a number of “energy girls” onto our award winning apprenticeship programme and hope to continue to do so and increase on those numbers year on year.”

April 9, 2014
by David Barnes
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CAP on the big screen

I spend a lot of time working on and thinking about the Common Agricultural Policy, but even I like to take a break at times.  So imagine my surprise during a family trip to the cinema last weekend when, amongst the trailers and adverts before the film, I saw a full colour European Commission-funded advert promoting …… the CAP !

I suppose the Commission are trying to do the same as we are in Scottish Government, namely raise awareness of the CAP and get more people interested in its future.  That being the case, it’s really pleasing that we had record numbers of responses to both of the CAP consultation exercises that have recently closed.

For the Pillar 1 direct payments system, the final number of responses was 464, which is more than double the previous record.  94 percent of respondents used the online questionnaire, with only a small minority taking the alternative option of a paper copy.

For Pillar 2 rural development, the total was even higher at 947 – of which 597 were identical.  That’s because one organisation asked all its members to write to us saying the same thing, and many of them did.

A write-in campaign like this is by no means a new phenomenon.  In the old days before e-mail, organisations would pre-print letters or postcards and distribute them to their members to sign and send in to the government.  These days it’s even easier as all anyone has to do is cut, paste and press send. 

But it does mean that interpreting the results of consultation exercises has always been as much an art as a science.  It’s easy to say that on a particular proposal, a certain percentage of responses were in favour or against.  But a single response could represent a membership organisation with hundreds or thousands of members, or the individual point of view of one member of the public.  So we always take care to study not just the numbers but the detail of the responses, to give us the best possible picture of the range of views held.  That careful study is exactly what the Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 teams are working on now.

Since my last post, as you may have seen in the press, we’ve had some unwelcome news from the Commission on the future options for Voluntary Coupled Support under the new CAP.  Mr Lochhead has asked for an urgent meeting with Commissioner Ciolos: you can find more details here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/CAP-decisions-challenged-b2a.aspx  .