Scottish Government Blogs

October 20, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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New topic sheet published: EMBRC



Through its members the EMBRC will provide access to European coastal seas and the extensive range of marine organisms that it contains. In addition, with having both the expertise and necessary specialist facilities, it will become the major European provider of marine biological research infrastructure and related services, championing the future sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources.

October 17, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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European Plans for the Ocean Energy Sector – October 2014

The European Commission has developed a two-step action plan to support the emerging ocean energy sector in Europe. In the first phase (2014 – 2016), an Ocean Energy Forum will be set up, which will bring together stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the problems and to develop solutions. It will focus on building capacity and critical mass, and on fostering cooperation. The outcomes of the Forum will feed into a strategic roadmap, which will provide an agreed blueprint for action in order to help the ocean energy sector move towards industrialisation.

In the second phase (2017 – 2020) a European industrial initiative could be developed, based on the outcomes of the Ocean Energy Forum. European industrial initiatives are public-private partnerships that bring together industry, researchers, Member States and the Commission to set out and implement clear and shared objectives over a specific timeframe. They enhance the impact of innovative research and development and provide a platform for sharing investment risk.

The development of the Ocean Energy Forum is still at an early stage. However, it is proceeding against an ambitious agenda set by the Commission to develop 100GW of ocean energy by 2050. In support of this agenda, a comprehensive infrastructure fund will be put in place to tackle issues such as the provision of a strategic grid network.

More on the Ocean Energy Forum here

Article by Andronikos Kafas

October 16, 2014
by Investors in People Scotland
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Investors in Young People

Published earlier this year, the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce has focused minds on the subject of youth unemployment.  Currently, there are 53,000 Young People not in employment, education or training in Scotland.  With only 27% of employers offering work experience and 29% employing directly from education in Scotland, there is significant scope and capacity for employers to positively and directly influence the future of the Scottish economy.

Employers who are proactive in the employment of Young People have reported myriad business benefits, including:

  • A talent pool for the future being built and sustained
  • Professional development for managers
  • Young People bringing a different mind-set and fresh pair of eyes
  • Employment of Young People increases life skills for all, including the Young People
  • Young People have skills such as IT and social media that are not readily available elsewhere

Working within an organisation that understands long term employment needs and plans for succession management; or an organisation where there is a process for consulting with Young People about the way that they are managed and supported; or where leaders in the organisation have an understanding of Young People’s needs, can all make huge differences to the way that Young People develop within a working environment.

One of the key recommendations from Sir Ian Wood’s report was for the creation of an Investors in Young People (IIYP) accreditation framework. Launched in the summer by Investors in People Scotland following support from the Scottish Government, the first early adopters of the framework have become IIYP accredited.

To gauge where you or your business are against the IIYP framework, try this free, 20 question diagnostic. Following the multiple choice questions you can download and keep a personalised report with your answers.

October 16, 2014
by blog administrator
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Fiona Hyslop: Scotland’s role in Europe

This year has put Scotland firmly on the map, with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the referendum generating attention and interest from our international neighbours.

This international interest in Scotland continues – this was my experience this week, when I travelled to Brussels to meet MEPs, Ministers, and academics and to address a European Policy Centre (EPC) event on the subject of the EU, the referendum and EU reform.

Helpful meeting with Minister President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois on how Scotland and Flanders can learn from each other on more devolved powers.

Scotland’s constitutional journey and the importance we place on EU membership has become a talking point beyond our shores. That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to reinforce Scotland’s commitment to the EU and the Scottish Government’s reform agenda at the EPC event in Brussels.

European Policy Centre event in Brussels.

The opportunities and benefits offered by membership are vitally important and we have a role in addressing some of the central challenges facing the EU at this crucial time.

In Scotland we are proud of our reputation as an outward looking nation. We work hard to secure a better future for all of our people, but also place importance on being a good global citizen. That’s why in the Scottish Government’s proposals to the Smith Commission, we said Scotland should have guaranteed rights to engage directly with EU institutions and decision-making processes in areas, which have considerable influence over the economic success and social welfare of Scotland.

This Government recognises the important role the EU can play in delivering peace, prosperity and social progress. That’s why our reform agenda prioritises economic and social policies that reflect the aspirations and concerns of people across Europe. We also seek to influence the UK government and EU institutions to advocate meaningful reform in areas such as economic growth and competitiveness, youth employment, workers’ rights, public health, climate change and energy security and free movement of persons.

Extra powers for Scotland in the EU would ensure we have the leverage we need to protect Scotland’s interests, making our distinctive, pro-European voice heard loud and clear in Brussels.

As our constitutional journey has shown, connecting people, politics and power has never been more important than it is now – not just for Scotland, but across Europe.

Download our booklet on Scotland’s Agenda for EU Reform.

Watch the EPC speech in full on Youtube or read the speech here.

October 15, 2014
by SG Admin
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Human Rights and Human Wrongs

Gillian Howell – Senior Marketing Manager – Safer Marketing@gilliana83

In my 8 years as a marketeer it’s fair to say I’ve consumed a varied diet of briefs. From selling cans of orange fizzy pop, to flogging gas and electricity, and shifting tins of soup.

One of the best things about doing marketing for the government is the chance to get under the skin of subjects that touch people’s lives in a very real way and where  success can, quite simply, mean helping to make someone’s life better. Forced marriage, the latest campaign we’ve launched under the over-arching ‘Scotland Believes in Equality’ banner, is a perfect example.

For most people living in Scotland, choosing the partner you will spend the rest of your life with is one of life’s true joys, a universal human right we take for granted. However for some being coerced to marry is the devastating reality.

Having come to the subject fairly cold I was shocked to hear about the different personal circumstances that can lead to someone becoming a victim of forced marriage. In some cases, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people are forced to marry to protect ‘family honour’. Disabled people have been known to be forced to marry to ensure their long-term care.

In most cases, young women and men are under enormous cultural pressure to conform to the wishes of their family and wider community. They can experience emotional pressure, blackmail, sexual abuse and physical violence.

Continue Reading →

October 13, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 1714A – Cruise Report

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure”. Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

A good book on a long sea trip is often a good source of inspiration. Finding and identifying rare marine species hidden beneath the azure of the Sea of the Hebrides is not, as might be expected, an easy task, but for the last three weeks the Alba na Mara has been doing just that.

When the capricious weather has decided to be kind, and at times it seldom felt like it would, we used the ship’s underwater camera system to survey several sites across the Sea of the Hebrides.  Some of these sites were home to the tall sea-pen, Funiculina quadrangularis, and during the trip we were able to locate several areas that were previously unknown to science. Our other search for the UK’s largest and rarest bivalve mollusc, the fan mussel, Atrina fagilis, was guided by computer models developed jointly by Marine Scotland and Aberdeen University. Our journey has taken us to waters over 240m in depth and to seabed varying from deep mud to rocky cliffs. Our efforts look promising but the task of revealing the sea’s hidden treasures is always a difficult one.

Phil Boulcott, Scientist in Charge
Alba na Mara Cruise 1714A

October 13, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 1714A – Cruise Programme

Figure 1 - Map of the study area in the waters around the Isle of Skye
Figure 1 – Map of the study area in the waters around the Isle of Skye

26 September – 14 October 2014

Ports: Loading in Fraserburgh, 24 September 2014 and unloading in Greenock, 14 October 2014

Personnel: Five


  • Pyramid frame and underwater video camera kit.
  • Pyramid frame calibration mesh (2 x wire panels)
  • Large, dual bongo + counterweight + 200 µm net and cod ends
  • Large plastic fish tank (white) + grey fish tanks
  • Scanmar depth units (x2)



Benthic Survey of Burrowed Mud Habitats

1714A will survey the waters around the Marine Protected Area (MPA) sited at the island of Canna (Figure 1).  Video surveys of the seabed will be carried out during this work in addition to the collection of RoxAnn sediment data.  It is the primary objective of this cruise to survey monitoring sites previously surveyed in 2012 and 2013 that support Scotland’s Priority Marine Features.  Work from these surveys will be used to determine the effect of MPAs established in Scottish waters.  A secondary objective will be to survey additional sites in the area surrounding the Small Isles and another to the north of the Isle of Skye that could provide suitable substrate for the tall sea pen, Funiculina quadrangularis, and for the fan mussel, Atrina fragilis.  These data, in conjunction with data gathered from less suitable sites, will be used to refine habitat suitability models for these species.  Species type, species densities and substrate type will be recorded during the survey.  Further post survey analysis will be conducted on this data.

Figure 2 - Map of the study area in the waters surrounding the Small Isles.

Figure 2 - Map of the study area in the waters surrounding the Small Isles.

Larval Dispersal

1714A will sample plankton from the water around Canna.  The programme of work follows on from plankton surveys conducted in June 2012 (survey 1012A), and September 2013 (1213A). Sampling will be conducted using the large (1 m diameter) dual bongo net.

Further to this work, 1714A will also retrieve a spat collecting mooring from Canna which was deployed from the MV Spanish John II on the 29April 2014. Candidate A. fragilis spat found on the spat collectors will be measured, weighed and placed in holding tanks for further cultivation in the laboratory.

October 13, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 1914A – Groundtruthing Survey

Preferred survey area, marked with red box

Preferred survey area, marked with red box

Duration: 27 October – 2 November 2014

Ports: Loading at Greenock, 24 October 2014, Unloading at Greenock, 02 November 2014

Personnel: Four


  • Day grabs
  • TV drop frame including HD digital video, temperature probe, flux capacitor, lasers, polyurethane cable, swathe multibeam echosounder system and RoxAnn system.


  1.  To undertake groundtruthing survey work over electrical cables and hydrocarbon pipelines to assess their potential interaction with the local epifauna.

October 10, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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8th International GIScience conference

In September, Marine Scotland Science staff attended the 2014 8th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIS),. The biennial conference, held in Vienna and hosted by the Austrian University of Technology brought together more than 600 international participants from academia, industry, and government organisations to discuss the state-of-the-art advances in the field of GIS.

This year’s programme provided a platform for geographers, computer scientists, and cartographers to meet with GIS practitioners such as ecologists, traffic specialists, linguists and social scientists. The 3-day long programme, combined with 1-day pre-conference workshops, included a number of different sessions in movement analysis, land use & land cover, mapping, spatial analysis and modelling, time geography, user generated data, volunteering GIS and public participation GIS.

Renowned Professors Edelsbrunner, Sieber, and Dykes were invited to deliver keynote talks on topology, citizen science and geo-visualisation respectively and in total, more than 100 presentations were given.

A brief overview of selected presentations from the conference and movement workshop is provided here.

Article by Andronikos kafas

October 9, 2014
by The Scottish Government
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Draft Scottish Budget 2015/16

Finance Secretary John Swinney today set out the Draft Scottish Budget 2015/16.

Mr Swinney said: “This budget follows unprecedented levels of political engagement not only on Scotland’s constitutional future but the wider priorities of the people of Scotland.

“What will lie at the heart of the budget will be a determination to make Scotland a prosperous and fairer country, within our current powers, where the benefits of economic growth are not only maintained but are shared by everyone.”

The budget includes proposed tax rates and publish tax receipts forecasts for the first time, ahead of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT) coming into force on April 1, 2015.


  • A first time buyer, buying a house worth £130,000 would now pay nothing under the new tax. Under stamp duty they would have paid £1,300
  • A couple buying a flat at £140,000 would now pay tax of £100 – saving £1,300 against stamp duty
  • A family buying a £260,000 home would save £4,500 in tax. They would now pay £3,300 compared to a stamp duty charge of £7,800


A Land and Buildings Transaction Tax calculator is available at: