Scottish Government Blogs

April 1, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine Scotland Compliance Officer wins Volunteer of the Month

Gareth Kemp Refereeing

Gareth Kemp Refereeing

Congratulations to Gareth Kemp, Senior Fishery Officer for Marine Scotland Compliance in Peterhead for winning February’s BT Club Volunteer of the Month Award. Gareth, who is Junior Head Coach with Ellon’s Rugby Club said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to have been nominated for the award, never mind to have won it. I give roughly 40 hours to the club each week, putting time in every day, so I’m thankful that my work is appreciated and recognised by others.”

In winning the BT Volunteer of the Month award for February, Gareth will receive a table-of-ten at the annual Scottish Rugby Club Awards Dinner and a commemorative trophy.

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March 31, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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A changing world – a personal reflection

Professor Moffat on the Solheimajokull glacier

Professor Moffat on the Solheimajokull glacier

There is one constant; our environment is continuously changing. The big challenge for science is to be able to distinguish between natural fluctuations and those forced by anthropogenic activities.  This requires that we gather as much evidence as we can and across Marine Scotland Science we are gathering data and maintaining our long-term time series with the objective of reducing the uncertainty in projecting what the future might hold as a consequence of increasing sea surface temperatures and a change in the pH of our seas and oceans.

We need to take account of all the available evidence, be it from land or sea.

On a recent family visit to Iceland I took the opportunity to find out what is happening to the glaciers, going to one of the Icelandic government’s monitoring stations on the Solheimajokull glacier.  As well as been a phenomenal experience, I came away from the glacier quite concerned.  The monitoring shows a reduction in height of 9 m since May 2014, due primarily to an exceptionally warm November.  However, when my guide pointed out where the glacier had previously extended to and emphasised that not that long ago you could leave your car on the main road and walk directly onto the glacier, rather than having to drive over a very rough track and then walk two kilometres, it was clear that significant change is occurring.

The monitoring station was incredibly simple, a wire with markers every metre that was dropped into a narrow hole created using a steam drill, yet the evidence compelling.  This represents, of course, only one year of data.  Was 2014 unusual or not? What will happen in 2015? How applicable is this one monitoring station to the wider environmental scenario? Only time will tell, but this illustrates the importance of long-term time series, be they marine or terrestrial, as well as the need to join together all the information that we have – without such data our advice will be limited.  However, maintaining appropriate time series allows us to provide increasingly robust advice.

Professor Colin Moffat, Head of Marine Scotland Science

March 30, 2015
by blog administrator
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Humza Yousaf: Scotland’s Action Plan for EU Engagement

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting the award-winning WEST Brewery in Glasgow to not only announce the publication of Scotland’s Action Plan for EU Engagement, but also to announce £140,000 in Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) for WEST Brewery – funding which will create and protect jobs.

Stronger ties to Europe

This newly refreshed Action Plan is both a recognition of the importance of remaining a committed partner in the EU, and a statement this Government’s ambition to focus our work in the EU to deliver benefit for the people of Scotland, creating the conditions for all of Scotland to flourish.

The refreshed Action Plan for EU Engagement will be the central pillar of the Scottish Government’s activity in Europe. It aligns with the Programme for Government and the commitment outlined by the First Minister to create a wealthier and more equal society. It has four key policy objectives:

  • Committed Partner: We will remain a committed European actor,  making the case for our place in Europe, and working to enhance Scotland’s voice within the EU.
  • EU Reform: We will promote effective and meaningful EU reform within the framework of the existing EU treaties for the benefit of Scotland and the entire territory of the EU.
  • Active Participation: We will work to secure investment, innovation and inclusive growth to support Scotland’s Economic Strategy.
  • Strengthening Partnerships: We will strengthen our relationships with European partners to develop and deliver mutually beneficial outcomes, policies and programmes in pursuit of our objectives.

WEST Brewery embodies  our ambition, and its success is evidence of the gains to be made for Scotland through our engagement in Europe. Not only was the Brewery founded and run by Petra, who exercised her right to free movement by coming from Germany to study and work in Scotland – further proof of the value of attracting talent from overseas – but they brew their beer in strict accordance with ancient German Purity Law, a particularly popular form of cultural exchange I am led to believe!

RSA is awarded to companies to grow the economy in specific areas requiring assistance in order to tackle inequality and reduce unemployment. The fund is administered by Scottish Enterprise. It is available as part of the €985 million of European Regional and Social Funding matched by the Scottish Government and partner funding. Last year (2013-3014), 117 offers of RSA were accepted in Scotland, totalling over £52.5 million. The investment is expected to create or safeguard 6,161 jobs.

Access to these funds is one of the many benefits of Scotland’s EU membership. They not only create vital jobs and grow our aspiring businesses, they also support incredibly important social programmes across Scotland. The Scottish Government last week published a booklet setting out some of the achievements made by European Structural Funds – both ESF & ERDF – over the past 7 years. You can access it at the link below:

European Structural Funds: A Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Scotland in Europe

Post by Humza Yousaf, Minister for Europe and International Development.

March 30, 2015
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Scotland in joint Agency activity at Buckie harbours and ports

Officers from Marine Scotland Compliance and Police Scotland’s Border Policing Command and Aberdeenshire and Moray Division have been involved in a week of engagement activity at harbours and ports within then Buchan area.

The activity also saw support from the Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs, National Crime Agency and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Detective Inspector Stuart Clark of Border Policing Command said: “A key priority of Border Policing Command is protecting the UK border. We have a strong presence at Scotland’s major air and sea ports, and it is vital that we work closely with local officers policing the communities who live and work in the harbours and ports around the extensive Scottish coastline.

“During this week and along with partners in Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs, National Crime Agency, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland we’ve engaged with the fishing and commercial maritime communities to encourage closer liaison. We’ve also used this opportunity to carry out briefings in relation to ‘Project Kracken’ to those who work in the maritime environment, with the aim of increasing vigilance and keeping people safe.”

Buchan Community Policing Team Inspector Simon Reid, of Aberdeenshire and Moray Division said: “The harbours and small ports within the Banff and Buchan area are of vital importance both commercially and recreationally to the local communities we serve. Community Policing Team officers already enjoy regular visits to and positive contact with those who work and make use of these ports.

“This engagement week has enabled our local officers to work alongside specialist officers from Border Policing Command to share skills and develop their experience in this area. I am particularly grateful for the support from the partner organisations that have also been present and worked alongside local officers. Initiatives such as Project Kracken are an important means by which to ensure that we remain resilient towards criminal or suspicious activity which may affect that.”

Project Kracken is a Joint Police, National Crime Agency and Border Force initiative to increase vigilance along the United Kingdom’s coastline and maritime environment. Anyone who sees or hears anything they would like to report can do so by contacting Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.

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March 27, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 0415A Programme

Duration: 29 March – 17 April 2015

Fishing Gear: Scallop dredges


  •  To carry out a survey of scallop stocks on the West Coast;
  •  To assess shell damage on all scallops caught;
  •  To collect information on by-catch of other commercial fish and shellfish species;
  •  To identify and quantify numbers of starfish species in all dredge tows;
  •  To collect data on scallop ring measurements;
  •  To collect scallop meat weight biological data; and
  •  To collect flesh samples for toxin analysis back at the laboratory.


Scallop dredge hauls will be made at sites used on previous surveys and other known commercial grounds as shown Figure 1.  Hauls will be of 30 minutes duration.  From each haul all of the scallops will be measured to the half centimeter below and aged.  Numbers and size distribution of commercial fish and shellfish species will be recorded along with scallop shell damage and starfish numbers and species.  From selected sites, scallop ring measurements shall be taken along with scallop meat weight information.  In addition to this tissue samples will be collected from selected sites and frozen for toxin analysis back at the laboratory.

Figure 1: Scallop dredge haul sites

Figure 1: Scallop dredge haul sites

March 27, 2015
by SG Admin
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3 frameworks, 2 turntables and a microphone!

Martin Mooney – Contract & Publishing Manager – Marketing Unit

Manage the blog they said, write a blog they said, so here goes.

I joined the Scottish Government marketing team a year ago. It’s fast-paced and the marketers are a sophisticated bunch who know their chai tea lattes from their macchiatos; they like an acronym or two with a sprinkling of jargon, but I’m starting to understand them.

I studied marketing at QMU. I wrote my dissertation on social marketing, so should know something about marketing, right? Wrong! I joined the Civil Service in 2010 having never worked in marketing. And my role now is to help facilitate the work the marketing team do. I’m the red tape guy.

Behind every campaign lies a complex tapestry of legislation, procurement, frameworks, contracts, agencies and a dash of marketers. I like the part I play in getting campaigns off the ground.

And I’m proud of the impact the campaigns have. The results the team share are phenomenal. And I’ve adopted some new ‘positive behaviours’ myself.

I’ve started to re-engage in sport. I’ve started Ju Jitsu, which is really just me getting beaten up by an OAP, a 4ft 9in woman and a 15 year old. I’ve also started a new exercise regime at the bus stop called ‘don’t wait, walk’. However, note to self, check the bus tracker before you start walking. Genuinely kidding myself this will take off. And I’ve been drinking alcohol a lot less. Mainly due to driving to gigs, which carries the added bonus of being able to remember it afterwards, no taxi fares and no hangovers.

It’s not all good though. My efforts at play,talk,read last weekend really backfired on me as I tried to get overly involved in the assault course at the Helix adventure playground with my 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter. One slip led to a sprained wrist, a scraped shin, a bruised leg, a highly amused son and a couple of choice words.

Now these are just some of the ways our campaigns impact my life. When I paused to think about it, I realise how big a task the marketing team has. The Government has a responsibility to tell the public about changes in legislation and the policies that can affect the nation. When you consider topics such as Active Travel, the flu vaccine and the new drink drive limit you understand the wide spectrum of messages and audiences there are to engage.

Now for the boring bit. My team manage the 3 frameworks that the marketing team utilise to make these campaigns happen. The Marketing Services, Media Services and Publishing Print Design and Associated Services frameworks. All work goes through these frameworks. Why? Because the government must prove due diligence, accountability and transparency in the spend of public money.

So like the campaigns, marketing is a sum of all of its parts. And although I’m unlikely to leave a footnote in the history of the Scottish Government I like the fact that I contribute to something that can have an impact on so many people’s lives, including me and my family, even if they do laugh at me when I nearly break my wrist.


March 27, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine & Fisheries News from other Organisations

A new paper featuring contributions from Plymouth Marine Laboratory Director of Science Professor Manuel Barange outlines why fish deserve more attention in food policies in our quest to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.

Fish already make a major contribution to the human food supply, providing more than 4.5 billion consumers with at least 15% of their average per capita intake of animal protein and essential fatty acids and micronutrients for improving human health.

Surprisingly, limited attention has been given so far to fish as a key element in food security strategies at a national level, even though fish are providing more protein per capita than pig, poultry and beef, and in terms of efficiency, fish aquaculture systems are more efficient converters of protein than most terrestrial livestock systems.

It is anticipated that this paper will become a key-reference in the coming years when it comes to discussing the contribution of fish to future food security and nutrition, feeding 9 billion people in 2050 and beyond.

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



March 26, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Go 4 Set Regional Finals – An Assessor’s Experience

By John Dunn

On the 11th of February I acted as an assessor in the regional finals of the Go 4 Set competition at Elphinstone Hall, King’s College, Aberdeen University. Teams from all over Grampian had been working away for ten weeks on a series of projects, and our role as assessors was to choose a suitable winner to go on to the national finals.

Go 4 Set links teams of usually S2 pupils with companies or Universities to tackle a project using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This helps to raise pupil’s awareness and highlights the potential exciting future careers and opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Go 4 Set AssessorsMy fellow assessors were the CEO of a major recycling company, an Aberdeenshire councillor, the CEO of an oil field service company, an Aberdeen city education officer, and a professor from the University, and me!

We had teams of pupils from Fraserburgh (who actually won the event), Torry, Harlaw, Kemnay, St Machar, and Northfield.

Each team had prepared a report, and a display or model of their project. They made a presentation to the assessors and we had to question them on the various aspects of the project and their understanding of what they had done and the ideas and results they obtained. Assessing the projects and the presentations was challenging as the pupils demonstrated a high level of involvement and skill in what they had done, but eventually we arrived at a consensus and the pupils were awarded with their prizes and certificates of achievement.

All in all an excellent event which exposes pupils to STEM and hopefully encourages some of them to follow through these subjects in higher education.

March 26, 2015
by Sarah Griffiths
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Digital Experience

Naina Bhardwaj is a student at Forth Valley College’s Stirling campus where she is studying for the first two years of her honours degree in Digital Media in conjunction with the University of Stirling. Earlier this month, Naina supported the College Development Network event Employer and College Partnerships: Ensuring Education Works for All  and wrote about the experience. You can connect to Naina on LinkedIn.

My first experience of the workplace was admittedly a rather generic one. I worked as a retail assistant at a local newsagents on the weekends and a few evenings after school. Whilst I was still young and the work was generally routine, I definitely had a first-hand view of what needs to happen in order for the workplace to run smoothly. However, whilst this was applicable to most work situations, I still had not had any hands on experience in the media industry which is what I aspired to work in.

This was where the opportunities available through Forth Valley College came in. Through the college, I have managed to produce a magazine show, edit a motorsport documentary, record and edit acoustic sessions for musicians, create promotional content for Scotland’s first 3D printing company, become an intern for The Stirling Fringe as well as become a regular contributor in several magazines and secure placements in print media. These experiences have played an instrumental part in allowing me to ensure that I have chosen the correct career path. Getting taught about how the industry works is one thing but getting a hands on experience is quite another. However I have found that it can be extremely difficult to find opportunities for work experience and distinguishing yourself from the crowd.

Therefore the College Development  Network’s event on 6th of March was an ideal opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of what experiences were available to students as well as colleges. The event was also live-streamed online to 40 delegates across the country.  The presentations were spearheaded by Linda  McTavish, Regional Chair of Lanarkshire. In addition to this she was formerly Convenor of Scotland’s Colleges and Chair of Community Learning Scotland as well as the Principal of Anniesland College thus she has a thorough understanding of further education from all levels. The conference was key to allowing the opportunity for delegates to reflect on the approach of their own organisation to implementing the recommendations of Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, network with others who can influence and support what they plan to implement as well as learn from the presentations featured at the event. Delegates also got the opportunity to put their – often grueling – questions to a panel of key people.

The attendees included numerous colleges and organisations from all over Scotland (with some even coming down from Orkney in order to attend the event) who spoke on a vast range of topics including everything from working in broadcasting to working in the dairy industry which further reiterated the point of students wanting to go into a range of different career paths yet the opportunities available being applicable to small groups of students. There were also exhibitors at the event who were happy to chat about their organisation and what they could offer. These included Skills Development Scotland, Adopt an Intern and Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) who all supported colleges, employers and students to find work and workers in their own way.

The points which were most emphasised included the Certificate of Work Readiness which many seemed to have previously been unaware of. This qualification is SQA approved and is defined by Skills Development Scotland as ‘an award for young people who are ready for their first experience of the world of work, but need some guided support. Many employers seem to believe that experience is key when getting a job: however opportunities are often limited.

I know from my own personal experience that the chances of sourcing relevant opportunities to the industry that you want to work in can be tricky and the College Development Network Employer Engagement event definitely played a fundamental part in allowing many people – colleges, employers and students – to realise how many programmes are out there to aid students in searching for relevant experience in their chosen field.

If you’re an employer and want to contact your local college, you can find out more on the CDN website:

If you’d like to know more about Developing the Young Workforce programme, you can email for our latest newsletter and to contact the secretariat team who organise the National Invest in Young People Group and support the regional groups.