Marine Scotland blog

News from Marine Scotland

August 18, 2014
by Ruth Allen

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:

August 21, 2014
by Ruth Allen

Scotland’s Future and Scottish Fisheries: Independence boost for fishing

New report sets out key independence gains for fishing industry

Five key gains for the fishing industry have been set out in a new report published today by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said that only independence will ensure Scotland’s fishing will be a national priority and ensure that the industry thrives for generations to come.

The five gains for the fishing sector set out in more detail in the report are:

• Fishing will be a national priority

• Direct representation in the EU and ability to negotiate our priorities without compromise

• Protection of Scotland’s fishing quotas

• Fairer share of EU Fisheries budget

• Ensure Scotland’s fishing levies promote Scottish seafood

Mr Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s fishing and seafood sectors are great industries and play an important part in our economic success and in our social and cultural identity.  As such they are many times more important to Scotland than to the UK as a whole, and for that reason they will be a much greater priority in an independent Scotland.

“Only with independence will Scotland’s fishing industry benefit from greater influence, better representation, a fairer deal in funding, and quota protection.  Freed from the existing constitutional arrangements, where it is not a national priority, it is a sector which will flourish.

“With independence, quota – which is the lifeblood of the fishing industry – will be protected.  A vote for independence will mean that we can protect our fishing sector and our rich heritage as an eminent fishing nation for this and future generations by stopping our quota being sold outside Scotland.

“Scotland is already one of the EU’s leading fishing nations as our waters account for at least 20 per cent of the European Union’s catch and fourth largest of the EU’s core sea areas.  We are already at the centre of Europe’s complex fisheries management arrangements and independence will bring greater influence on the decision making process.

“As an independent Member State we will have a greater influence on the issues that matter most to us. It will bring an end to the ludicrous situation where the landlocked countries of Europe, such as Slovakia, Austria and Luxembourg, can even speak on EU fisheries policy, while Scotland currently cannot.  And it will end the situation where time and again I am forced to sit in silence while other nations of Scotland’s size – and smaller – make their case and secure key concessions for their fishing industries.

“Independence will give us the voice we need to negotiate a fairer share of European fisheries budgets to help our fishermen and the wider industry. Unlike the UK Government which has sought to reduce the size of these funds – and whose negotiation tactics have left Scotland third bottom of the European fisheries funding league tables – we will fight for a fair deal where the funding Scotland receives is relative to the size of the industry we have.”


August 20, 2014
by Paul Stainer

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

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 14, 2014
by Ruth Allen

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

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

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

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