Marine Scotland blog

News from Marine Scotland

July 24, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Analytical Unit monthly update – 24 July 2014

This week’s update from the Marine Analytical Unit has been published, featuring an article which announces the designation of 30 Marine Protected Areas.

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July 24, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Supporting the Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) project

This week the Scottish MPA project reached a significant milestone this week with the designation of 30 protected sites throughout Scottish waters. This network is the result of work involving many agencies and organisations. Marine Scotland Science (MSS) has been working hard conducting research, monitoring surveys and providing advice to help support this work.

MSS Scientists led by Peter Wright, the Ecology and Conservation Group Leader have unique knowledge and expertise of some of the habitats and species considered to be marine nature conservation priorities in Scottish waters or Priority Marine Features (PMFs) as they are commonly known. This is particularly so for some of the mobile fish species such as common skate and sandeel.  Peter and his colleagues advised on MPAs for the two PMF fish species; sandeel and common skate.

Common skate being tagged in the Sound of Jura

Common skate being tagged in the Sound of Jura

Common skate is especially vulnerable to fishing pressure and a highly valued species by recreational anglers in Scottish waters. Research by MSS scientist Francis Neat  published last month in the Journal Aquatic Conservation http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.2472/abstract confirms the need for measures to protect these species and informed the decision on the MPAs in the Sound of Jura and Loch Sunart. Working closely with the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (http://www.ssacn.org) skate movements were tracked, showing that many were resident in the area for long periods of time. Data from skate tagged and released by anglers showed that skate in this area are currently experiencing a high mortality rate.
Video of the sea bed collected by MSS during surveys of Scottish Nephrops stocks are a valuable source of information on the presence of vulnerable benthic species and enabled MSS scientist Lynda Blackadder, and colleagues to produce a comprehensive picture of these species across surveyed areas of burrowed mud. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/12/4074. This together with earlier data collected by MSS  facilitated a modelling study of the suitable habitat and environmental conditions for these species in a paper shortly to be published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science by Clare Greathead and others of MSS.
Two species of sea pen found on ‘burrowed mud’ habitat

Two species of sea pen found on ‘burrowed mud’ habitat

Understanding how connected the protected features may be between different MPAs is important but is a difficult area of science where often little is known about the movements or spread of many of the features being protected. MSS oceanographer Alejandro Gallego has used hydrographic models to simulate where the planktonic larvae of protected benthic species may move to, potentially providing a bridge from one protected site to another  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/07/7896

MSS scientists Mike Robertson and Phil Boulcott  have led on several surveys with partners JNCC and SNH using Marine Scotland vessels Alba na Mara  and Scotia  across a range of MPA search areas, possible MPAs and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (part of the wider MPA network).  Survey methods in which MSS specialise, such as: swathe bathymetry, towed underwater video, grab sampling and deployment of fish traps, were used to record the habitats and species in MPA areas in the Minches, West of the Hebrides, Northern North Sea, Moray Firth and Faroe Shetland Channel as well as the SACs East Rockall, Wyville Thompson Ridge, Stanton Banks, Solan Bank and Pobie Bank. These surveys have provided data to define search areas, revise site boundaries and set a baseline for future site condition monitoring.

July 23, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Vancancy: Provision of Executive Director services to Fisheries Innovation Scotland Ltd: Closes 4th August

An exciting opportunity has arisen in Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS), a newly-established legally constituted, non-profit-distributing organisation soon to gain charitable status, with the remit of bringing together government, scientists, industry and other key stakeholders within a formal structure to lead an on-going programme of research, knowledge exchange and education. FIS will commission underpinning applied research and the provision of advice – using funds jointly committed by its trustees – to help inform the governance and management of sustainable fisheries, the fishing industry and related supply chain throughout Scotland and potentially beyond.

July 18, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine & Fisheries News from other organisations

Provision of Executive Director services to Fisheries Innovation Scotland Ltd
An exciting opportunity has arisen in Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS), a newly-established legally constituted, non-profit-distributing organisation soon to gain charitable status, with the remit of bringing together government, scientists, industry and other key stakeholders within a formal structure to lead an on-going programme of research, knowledge exchange and education. FIS will commission underpinning applied research and the provision of advice – using funds jointly committed by its trustees – to help inform the governance and management of sustainable fisheries, the fishing industry and related supply chain throughout Scotland and potentially beyond.  Read more

 

July 16, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine & Fisheries News from other organisations

Scotrenewables SR250 tidal power device under tow. Picture courtesy of Scotrenewables.

Scotrenewables SR250 tidal power device under tow. Picture courtesy of Scotrenewables.

EcoWatt2050 – maximum marine energy extraction, minimum environmental impact

Funding of more than £1 million has been awarded to a Scottish-based project that will help to determine the limits to tidal and wave energy extraction before potential environmental and ecological impacts occur.

Read the Article

 

July 16, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia; Survey 0814S – Herring Acoustic Survey

Proposed Survey Track Scotia 0814S

Proposed Survey Track Scotia 0814S

Overview of survey:
The MRV Scotia and a chartered pelagic vessel will conduct the Herring Acoustic Survey covering the area shown below.  The pelagic vessel will identify fish shoals using the echosounder and fishing operations will be carried out using the multisampler cod end unless large aggregations are seen in the area.  Samples of all species caught will be measured for length and weighed to establish a length-weight relationship.

Otoliths will be collected from a sub-sample of the herring to determine age.  For each herring in the sub-sample the state of maturity, gonad weight, liver weight, whole and gutted weight, presence of food in the stomach as well as any presence of infection.  In addition, random sampling of fish above 24 cm length will be carried out and photographs taken for identification analysis.  Otoliths from these fish will, subsequent to aging, will be made available for analysis.

The ships thermosalinograph will be run continuously to obtain sea surface temperature and salinity throughout the survey area.

Duration: 28 June – 17 July 2014
Personnel: 8 (Part 1) 8 (Part 2)

Gear: Midwater trawl PT160 x 3; Multisampling pelagic cod-end with one fine mesh cod-end; Seabird 911 CTD; One metre vertical plankton sampling net 350µm mesh.

Objectives: To conduct an acoustic survey to estimate the abundance and distribution of herring in the north western North Sea and north of Scotland between 58º30’-62ºN and from the shelf edge to 2ºE, excluding Faroese waters and;

  • To obtain biological samples for echosounder trace identification using a pelagic trawl.
  • To obtain samples of herring for biological analysis, including age, length, weight, sex, maturity and ichthyophonus infection.
  • To obtain hydrographic data for comparison with the horizontal and vertical distribution of herring.
  • To obtain dry weight estimates of macro zooplankton biomass throughout the study area for comparison with acoustically derived plankton biomass estimates and observed herring distribution.

 

 

July 16, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Alba na Mara; Survey 1214A – Renewable Energy Survey

Drop Frame Designed and Built by MSS. Photo courtesy of Ahmet Raif Eryasar

Drop Frame Designed and Built by MSS. Photo courtesy of Ahmet Raif Eryasar

Overview of survey:
The survey work will involve the deployment of the TV drop frame (shown right) and, where practical, the deployment of a day grab.  Some additional bathymetric survey work and trawling may also be undertaken depending on the weather conditions. MRV Alba na Mara will complete a half landing to exchange scientific staff. The proposed survey work for the north and east coast of Scotland (shown below) is very similar to the work undertaken during previous surveys, which is essential in ground-truthing exercises.

Duration: 7-22 July 2014
Personnel: 4 (Part 1) 4 (Part 2)
Gear: Day grabs; TV drop frame with digital video, lasers and armoured cable; Agassiz trawls; Swathe multibeam echosounder system; RoxAnn system.

Alba na Mara Survey Sites for Survey 1214S

Alba na Mara Survey Sites for Survey 1214S

Objectives:
To undertake ground-truthing survey work in connection with potential floating offshore wind and wave renewable energy developments located on the east and north coast of Scotland.

 

 

July 16, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine & Fisheries News from other organisations

Fishermen scraping the bottom of the barrel in the English Channel

Decades of overfishing in the English Channel has resulted in the removal of many top predators from the sea and left fishermen ‘scraping the barrel’ for increasing amounts of shellfish to make up their catch. Sharks, rays, cod, haddock and many other species at the head of the food chain are at historic lows with many removed from the area completely.

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/.

 

July 9, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Marine & Fisheries News from other organisations

Anti-depressants disrupt fish’s brains

Drugs designed to ease the symptoms of mental health problems such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress can have major disruptive effects on aquatic animals’ brains, say scientists. A suite of new research, published in a special issue of the journal  Aquatic Toxicology, points to mounting evidence that they could be damaging aquatic species.

‘At the moment, it’s almost impossible for regulators to work out what is a safe level for these drugs in the environment’ says Dr Alex Ford, University of Portsmouth.

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/.

July 8, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Scotland’s Environment web launches new volunteer service

A new matchmaking service for volunteers looking for opportunities to get involved in environmental projects with local voluntary groups has been launched by Scotland’s Environment web (SEweb).

The new Project Finder service is available through the recently re-launched Scotland’s Environment website – www.environment.scotland.gov.uk – and includes an easy to use search feature to help people identify projects of interest.