SIORC Community Project

Sharks, skates and rays In the Offshore Region and Coastal Zone of Scotland

SIORC launched in spring 2014 and brings together MASTS expertise and research capacity to address deficiencies in the knowledge of sharks, skates and rays (elasmobranchs) in Scottish waters. Elasmobranchs are an integral component of Scottish marine ecosystems and provide over £140M in benefits to Scotland each year. Yet the number of threatened species in Scotland is higher than the global average, with the science behind their conservation poorly understood. Our goal is to provide the strongest scientific evidence base for stakeholders and policy-makers by prioritising and delivering on a research conservation agenda for elasmobranchs in our coastal zone and deep seas.  

SIORC is collating an evidence base for Scotland that addresses specific research questions identified by globally recognised shark experts as key issues in the paper “The importance of research and public opinion to conservation management of sharks and rays: a synthesis” (Simpfendorfer et al., Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 518-527). Once complete, SIORC will report its findings to stakeholders and use this as the strategic foundation to prioritise research.

Targeted field projects are also undertaken by SIORC members when a critical knowledge gap is identified. These have included archival tagging of tope in the Luce Bay and East Sands MPA, and the launch of the first mark-recapture study on juvenile spurdog in Loch Etive.

2017 - SUMMARY OF PHOTO-IDENTIFICATION INTERNSHIP AT THE SCOTTISH ASSOCIATION FOR MARINE SCIENCE - This report reviews the photo-identification internship at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) with Dr Steven Benjamins in conjunction with the SIORC Community Project as part of the Common Skate Photographic Identification Database of Scotland (COSPIDS) project. It details the work carried out during the internship, the skills developed and the output of the internship. It was funded through the MASTS Marine Biodiversity, Function and services theme.

SIORC Shark Tagging Database Internship - Stage 1 report; Stage 2 report & Stage 3 report

SIORC’s last workshop, “Spatial Ecology of Elasmobranchs: Trends, Advances in Methods, & Opportunities”, was held at the MASTS ASM in autumn 2014. Our meeting established the UK’s first collaboration with the Ocean Tracking Network, a $168-million ocean research and technology development platform headquartered at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. SIORC is pleased to announce that planning with OTN, MASTS academics and the Scottish government is now underway to implement wide area acoustic arrays to track migratory fish species and habitat use in Scotland’s MPAs.

Latest publication from SIORC - Seamount egg-laying grounds of the deep-water skate Bathyraja richardsoni