Marine Scotland blog

News from Marine Scotland

February 5, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

New report published by the CORPORATES Project

This new report provides the background, the process and the outcomes of an interdisciplinary project entitled “The Cooperative Participatory Evaluation of Renewable Technologies on Ecosystem Services (CORPORATES)”, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The report can be found at

The CORPORATES project involved colleagues from the MarCRF collaborators Marine Scotland Science (I. Davies, M. Gubbins, A. Kafas, R. O’Hara Murray and K. Wright) and the University of Aberdeen (B.E. Scott, A. MacDonald, T. Potts, A.M. Slater and J.F. Tweddle), in addition to the James Hutton Institute (K.N. Irvine and A. Byg) and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (J. Kenter).

Aim of the Project
The aim of the project was to exchange knowledge between researchers and a range of public and private sector stakeholders around the understanding of marine ecosystem services (ES), in the context of marine spatial planning decisions around marine renewable energy. The project developed a pilot study located at the Firth of Forth, Scotland, considering current development of a number of large windfarms in an area important to both fishing and nature conservation. The project included the involvement of a wide range of highly experienced stakeholders over the course of two day-long workshops in November 2014 and March 2015. While the process centred on a ‘live’ decision-making case study, the focus of the CORPORATES project was to provide an example of a decision support tool for knowledge exchange around ES rather than influencing decision-making in the Forth. The project design and delivery was highly transdisciplinary, involving experts with backgrounds in ecology, oceanography, marine management, policy, law, environmental psychology, anthropology and ecological economics as well as public and private sector stakeholders.


Further Information:
More information about the project can be found at:
If you wish to contact the CORPORATES team, you can email:

February 2, 2016
by Ruth Allen

Regional IFG Chair Recruitment

Marine Scotland is seeking to appoint two independent Chairs for the West Coast and North & East Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups, for an initial period of 18 months.  There are five inshore fisheries management bodies in Scotland. These appointments relate to the two mainland Inshore Fisheries Groups.

Inshore Fisheries Groups (IFGs) are non-statutory bodies that develop and take forward inshore fisheries management plans for their respective areas. Their aim is to improve the management of Scotland’s inshore fisheries out to six nautical miles, and to give commercial inshore fishermen an effective voice in wider marine management developments.

Two Regional IFGs are being formed to cover the West Coast and the North & East Coast of Scotland. This new structure replaces four IFGs that currently cover the mainland coast and will be in place from April 2016. Background information on IFGs, including the creation of the Regional IFGs, can be found at

Further Information


February 1, 2016
by Ruth Allen

Join us on a mission to save Scotland from ‪#‎ClimateChange

Go Greener Together logoThe Scottish Government has launched a new mission to tackle climate change.

Your Mission Objectives are:

Mission 1 - Don’t sweat the small stuff. Turn down your thermostat by just one degree. You’ll cut your energy bills by around £90 a year and help create a cleaner Scotland. You won’t even feel the difference, you’ll still be warm and cosy.

Mission 2 – Make a clean getaway. Set the washing machine to 30 degrees, it’ll save energy and cut those fuel bills. Besides, a lower temperature wash is kinder to your clothes and they’ll emerge just as clean.

Mission 3Give food waste the chop by using up leftovers, reducing what you buy and planning meals before you shop. The average Scottish household throws away around £470 worth of food every year. Shop savvy and you’ll not just have less waste, you’ll have more money too.

Mission 4Engage leg power: leave the car behind for all those short trips and walk instead. You cut down on CO2 emissions and help create a cleaner, less congested Scotland. You’ll feel great too – walking helps us cope with stress, burns calories and feels good.

More information

January 30, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
1 Comment

Marine Scotland Staff Clean Up: 29 January 2015

Torry Beach, near Capston Pier, following the recent floods

It’s amazing what a little effort can do. Before the beach clean…..
Torry Beach near Capston Pier - Before Beach Clean
…..and then after three Thursday lunchtime clean-ups.
Torry Beach near Capston Pier - After Beach Clean web


For further details about a locally organised clean-up this Saturday, please follow the link to this Facebook page:

Please note that this event is not organised or endorsed by Marine Scotland.


January 26, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

Marine Scotland Staff Clean Up: 22 January 2015

Two bags full of rubbishThere have been a couple of clean-ups since Christmas-time. Danny took to the beach on his own for the first one and Paul Stainer joined in for last week’s trip down to the shore; where 152 items were collected in 20 minutes. We are now into our second year of litter-picking and I’m sure Danny will be rounding up more helpers in the forthcoming weeks to keep up the good work.

Pictured to the right isRubbish following the recent flooding some of the rubbish (loads of plastic bottles, hard hats, lots and lots of plastic rubbish) brought down the River Dee following the recent flooding.

Latest total stats:

  • Bottles and cans recycled = 4,171;
  • Full bin bags of waste = 184, and
  • Person effort collecting = 14,940 minutes, or 249 hours.

The image below show one of several landslips along the roadside, down to the shore, that have seen part of the road closed to cars.

Landslip following the recent floods




January 21, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 0116A Update

Following a two-day delay in sailing, due to adverse weather on the east coast, Alba sailed early evening on Friday 8th January and made way in heavy seas for Mull. In the shelter from the strong NE winds TV work began along the south side of Mull on Monday 11th, and over the following four days continued in an anti-clockwise direction; mapping the extent of the uncharted muddy habitat between Mull, Colonsay and Jura, anchoring over-night in bays off these islands. On Friday the 15th Alba made way for Oban where a staff transfer was planned and provisions were taken onboard.

Further Information


January 20, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

MRV Scotia: Survey 0216S Programme

Duration: 23 January – 12 February 2016

Fishing Gear:

  • GOV Trawl (BT 137) with ground gear A & B;
  • MIK Net (Round Frame with IK depressor); and
  • MIKeyM net (attached to the MIK net on selected stations).


  1. To complete an internationally coordinated demersal trawling survey in the North Sea in ICES area IV.
  2. To undertake MIK sampling for pre-metamorphosed herring larvae during the hours of darkness within the trawl survey area. For selected stations additional MIKeyM samples will also be collected from the MIK deployments.
  3. To obtain temperature and salinity data from the surface and seabed at each trawling station using a SEABIRD 19+ CTD.
  4. Collect additional biological data in connection with the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF).


Hauls of 30 minutes duration will be made using the GOV trawl.  Wherever possible, fishing will be carried out during daylight hours as defined below:

Table 1 0216 web



For each degree of longitude west, four minutes will be added to the time; for each degree of longitude east, four minutes will be subtracted. The survey area is outlined in the attached chart but the exact fishing position will be decided in collaboration with the fishing master.  The Scanmar system will be used throughout the survey to monitor headline height, wing spread, door spread and distance covered during each haul.  A bottom contact sensor (BCS) will be attached to the ground-gear and the data collected will be downloaded after each haul. Catches will be processed according to standing sampling protocols with additional biological data collected for species as required.

MIK Sampling:

Pre-metamorphosed herring larvae will be sampled during the hours of darkness with the MIK mid-water trawl (Round frame).  Two double oblique tows will be made in every square within the assigned survey area.  The vertical profile of the tow will be monitored using the Scanmar system.  During this survey the small 20 mm round frame net (MIKeyM net) will also be deployed on selected MIK stations for the purpose of collecting pelagic fish eggs from the survey area.  See Figure 2 for locations where the MIKeyM net will be deployed and for proposed locations for Scotia. Hydrography: Surface and bottom temperatures, salinities, nitrates, silicates and phosphates will be taken at all trawl stations.  The ships thermosalinograph will be run continuously throughout the survey.


Further Information:

Scotia Survey 0216S – Figures 1 and 2 

January 19, 2016
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 0116A Programme

Duration: 6 – 22 January 2016


  • Large TV drop frame;
  • TV sledge;
  • 1 x 600m umbilical towing cable;
  • 1 x armoured cable;
  • Video cameras and associated equipment (plus backup);
  • Four lasers and bracket for the drop frame;
  • 1 x BT201 prawn trawl (plus minimal spares);
  • Day grab and table;
  • Prawn sorting table;
  • Large plankton bongo frame;
  • Scanmar depth units;
  • Flowmeters; and
  • Go Pro deep water housing.


  • To obtain estimates of the Nephrops habitat distribution in the open waters to the south of Mull in the South Minch, using sediment grabs and underwater cameras.
  • To obtain estimates of the distribution and abundance of Nephrops within this area using underwater video cameras.
  • To compare two different methodologies to establish Nephrops burrow abundance (sledge compared to drop frame).
  • To use the video footage to record occurrence of other benthic fauna and evidence of commercial trawling activity.
  • To collect trawl caught samples of Nephrops for comparison of reproductive condition and morphometrics.
  • To deploy the large plankton bongo frame in the Sound of Canna to obtain sea pen larvae.


The priority of this survey continues the work previously completed in the sea lochs of the South Minch in 2014 and 2015 (0114A and 0115A) where the extent of the muddy Nephrops habitat was mapped in areas where there is little or no BGS data available.  The findings from earlier work in the North Minch were presented at WKNEPH 2013, and the outcomes from these South Minch surveys will be presented at WGNEPS 2016.  This information will assist in determining the extent and influence of Nephrops habitat in the South Minch sea lochs and areas of open water, on the Nephrops management advice for the overall South Minch area (Functional Unit 12), where little or no BGS data is available

Each survey site will be located near the boundary of the suspected Nephrops ground.  The drop frame will be deployed to provide a visual record of the seabed type as the ship drifts over the ground.

The search path will continue in one direction until the presence or absence of muddy sediment becomes apparent.  All significant observations will be recorded on DVD as well as manually. These observations will include the muddy sediment boundary, the point where Nephrops burrows begin to appear or disappear, and any signs of fishing activity.

The distance between, and the duration of each of these deployments will vary depending on the environmental conditions, obstructions (creels, fish farms, etc.), the size of the survey area and how quickly the boundary between Nephrops and non-Nephrops habitat is detected.

A Day Grab will be deployed at a suitable point along the track and on recovery the sediment sample will be frozen.

Once an area has been satisfactorily surveyed to establish the extent of the muddy habitat, depending on available time and the weather conditions, a selection of stations will also be surveyed for Nephrops abundance, whereby the drop frame will be deployed over known Nephrops grounds.  The vessel will drift over the grounds whilst a 10 minute recording is made of the sea bed, during which time the number of Nephrops burrow complexes will be recorded. A sediment grab will be required following each of these operations.  The number of TV stations to be completed will be determined by the extent of the muddy grounds and time available.  Due to the high probability of creels present in the proposed survey areas the drop frame will be used in preference to the sledge.

The area to be surveyed will be defined by VMS, observer and SCOTMAP data but will be located between Mull and the known muddy habitat north of Jura.  More specific details will be discussed with the ship’s officers prior to sailing.

If time and weather conditions permit, as well as the objective described above, in a separate exercise, a gear trial to observe the abundance of observed Nephrops burrow complexes between the drop frame and sledge will be carried out.  The sledge will be deployed five times on known Nephrops grounds, in parallel tracks 200m long and approximately 50m apart.  The drop frame will then be deployed over the same ground a further three times, with video of the sea bed being recorded at all times with both methods.  This approach has previously been trialed however further repetitions are required for more robust analysis of the results.  It is hoped that in future this drop frame approach will be able to provide quantitative Nephrops burrow abundance data in areas where the sledge cannot be deployed.  Details of the experiment location will be discussed with the ship’s officers during the survey.

Trawling will take place when appropriate, with length, sex and morphometric data being collected for DCF and MSS purposes.

If sea conditions permit, a day will be spent deploying the large bongo plankton net up to three times in the Sound of Canna.  Oblique tows at 2.5knots will be carried out using the hydro winch.  The contents of the cod end will be preserved in isopropanol and ethanol.  All COSHH and appropriate risk assessments will be provided prior to sailing.  The bongo frame will be rigged by a member of the Planning and Environmental Advice Group from MSS prior to sailing.


January 15, 2016
by Ruth Allen

New publication about how seabirds feed underwater

It has always been difficult to describe what diving seabirds do underwater – how deep they dive, how they forage and catch their prey.  It is important to know about this, for example to assess the risk that underwater renewable energy turbines may present to the birds.

In a new publication, The use of an unsupervised learning approach for characterizing latent behaviours in accelerometer data, which includes contributions from Marine Scotland Science colleagues, the use of tags containing accelerometers as a powerful tool for studies on animal behaviour, energetics and movements is explored .

Accelerometer data has been used from two species of diving seabird (guillemot and razorbill), anticipated to have contrasting foraging behaviours. The publication shows how an unsupervised statistical learning algorithm is able to clearly analyse the complex information on movement in three dimensions provided by the tags to identify distinct phases of behaviour above and below water. It also shows how the accelerometer data allows exploration of previously unstudied and important behaviours such as searching and prey chasing/capture events.

This new statistical approach provides an ideal tool for the systematic analysis of such complex multi-variable movement data obtained with accelerometer tags.

Further Information