Productive Seas

The Theme of Productive Seas is a key area for MASTS activity with major scientific challenges encompassing the balance of exploitation against the resilience and capacity of natural systems to supply resources against a backdrop of increasing demand and climate change.

The main aim of this theme is to: Use our world leading science to improve the sustainable productivity of our marine environment.

Both energy and food security will be fundamental drivers for marine science. Scotland is in many ways at the forefront of marine energy production through established and emerging fossil fuel extraction and marine renewables development in particular. Aquaculture is pivotal to the rural economy of some areas within Scotland and is likely to expand into the production of other non-food products and services through biofuels, marine biotechnology and genomics.

Scotland's capture fishery remains one of the largest in Europe and its long term survival will hinge upon the development of sustainable fisheries management founded on good science. As well as delivering strategic science, the Forums within this Theme will also need to be actively engaged with policy, regulation and industry to address both immediate and longer term challenges.

Through representation of the Productive Seas Theme on the Marine Strategy Forum together with other strategic academic and public bodies, MASTS is well placed to help inform and to respond to evolving research requirements

This theme is led by Prof James Turnbull. Prof Turnbull has worked for the past 27 years in aquaculture and has worked with a wide range of stakeholders and academic disciplines. Prof Turnbull also has experience of reviewing, managing and undertaking research at a national and international level. Prof Turnbull will act as an honest broker in the role of MRT leader for the Productive Seas Theme.

Theme leader: Prof James Turnbull

Deputy Leader: TBC

Steering Group: Dr Paul Fernandes (MASTS Fisheries Science Forum Convenor, MASTS Reader, University of Aberdeen); Dr Beth Scott (MASTS Marine Renewable Energy Forum Convenor, Aberdeen University); Dr Adam Hughes (MASTS Sustainable Aquaculture Forum Convenor, SAMS); Lucy Greenhill (MASTS Marine Planning Forum, SAMS); Dr Sally Rouse/Dr Tom Wilding (MASTS Oil & Gas Forum Convenors, SAMS); Dr Cornelius Chikwama (Marine Scotland)


Bi Annual Update

At the Annual Science Meeting in October 2017, the Theme Steering Group met and confirmed new membership of the group by welcoming Corneilius Chikwama from Marine Scotland, and introduced a new streamlined reporting process, which will result in regular updates on Forum activities on these pages (see below).


Fisheries Science Forum

The forum has held several meetings within the group and with other stakeholders.  Major issues have been Fisheries in Brexit and the Fisheries Innovation Scotland.  The forum members have obtained funding from a number of sources.  They have been active in outreach and case studies across the globe, with initiatives in Brazil, on the Clyde and a paper produced from a meeting sponsored by the forum (Figure F1).


Figure F1. reproduced from Graziano et al (2018). Exports of NEA Mackerel (a-b) and Atlantic salmon (c-d) from the UK by importing country–2009 and 2014 (Source: UK Sea Fisheries Annual Statistics Report 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014).


Brexit.  The Forum is drafting a position paper on fisheries science after Brexit.  Several members, notably NAFC and University of Aberdeen have been working with stakeholders to provide evidence which will inform fisheries management arrangements after Brexit.  A wider discussion within the Fisheries Forum has been taking place, with two face to face meetings with representatives from Marine Scotland.  This will develop over the coming months (see below).  A discussion about funding work to do with Brexit was rejected by Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS), who are of the view that the issue is too political: they are rather more focussed on short term innovative action that will benefit the fishing industry more directly.

Fisheries Innovation Scotland. MASTS members, through membership of the FIS Technical Advisory Committee were instrumental in helping to formulate the next FIS research call which will be announced in the middle of December.

Funding. Members of the Forum have been successful in securing the following grants relating to fisheries science

  1. Strengthening Regional cooperation in the area of fisheries data collection (fishPi2), funded by the European Commission, co-ordinated by University of St Andrews, involves Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and 12 other institutes.
  2. Feasibility study on an industry self-sampling programme for the pelagic sector, funded by Fisheries Innovation Scotland, led by University of Aberdeen.

Outreach Brazil. Karen Diele (Edinburgh Napier University) has been working in Brazil to launch a fisheries citizen science app, with support from various print-media and TV programs, which was featured on the webpage of the Ministry for the Environment.

Clyde case study.  Members of the Clyde2020 Research Advisory Group (which includes some MASTS Fisheries Forum members), attended a Clyde2020 meeting in Balloch on 1 November. The meeting discussed the Clyde Assessment which is being finalised by the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership (CMPP), and a so-called ‘laymans guide’ which is being developed by a consultancy.Also on the agenda was a proposal to develop stock assessments and a local management plan from the scallop fishery in the Clyde, which arose out of a meeting in Victoria Quay on 25 May attended by industry representatives, Marine Scotland staff, CMPP, SIFID project, Strathclyde, York and Bangor Universities.  This will be taken forward by Strathclyde University in consultation with Marine Scotland Science.

Paper from forum event.  A paper has been published as a result of an event that was part funded by the Fisheries Forum: Graziano, M., C. J. Fox, K. Alexander, C. Pita, J. J. Heymans, M. Crumlish, A. Hughes, J. Ghanawi, and L. Cannella. 2018. Environmental and socio-political shocks to the seafood sector: What does this mean for resilience? Lessons from two UK case studies, 1945–2016. Marine Policy 87:301-313.


Oil & Gas Environment Research Forum

The forum has held both face to face (Fig O&G1) and on-line meetings.  Again, a major event was the decommissioning workshop at the annual science meeting.  This annual event attracts a great deal of high level participation from industry, regulators and academia.  The forum was also represented at North Sea Futures and will be hosting a workshop at Dynamic Earth March 2018.

Figure O&G1. Images from the MASTS OGER workshop on ‘Marine Environmental Issues Pertaining to the OSPAR 98/3 Decision’.


Decommissioning. The forum co-hosted the two day joint MASTS and SUT Annual Decommissioning and Wreck Removal workshop as part of the ASM. Kate Gormely and Sally Rouse prepared/chaired one of the four sessions, entitled ‘Environmental Perceptions of Jacket Decommissioning Scenarios’. The session was attended by over 100 people from across industry, government and academia.

North Sea Futures.  Sally Rouse represented the forum at the North Sea Futures meeting in Copenhagen in September 2017. The meeting was used as an opportunity to present the forum’s ongoing work in relation to decommissioning and OSPAR 98/3, and identify potential areas of collaboration between MASTS researchers and other EU institutions with interested in North Sea oil and gas.

Dynamic Earth in March 2018. Kate Gormley will be hosting a ‘Design for Decommissioning: Opportunities for Marine Science’ at Dynamic Earth in March 2018. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss ideas with marine scientist and engineering on integrating marine science at the design stage of platforms, to make collection of environmental data, throughout the life of the platform, and decommissioning, simpler and easier.


Marine Planning & Governance Forum

On-line and face to face meetings were held.  Forum sponsored events include small grant projects and a Sea Scotland conference (Fig MPG 1), which also fed into the MASTS Brexit event.  MPG also collaborated with the Marine Renewable Energy forum on a writing retreat in November.

Figure MPG 1. Sea Scotland 2017 Delegation


Small Grants. Final report received from Phase I small grant: Stojanovic, T.A. (2017) Scoping the design of a regional marine planning process.  A report to the MASTS Marine Planning and Governance Forum.  This will ideally form the basis of developing proposals for large grants for marine planning research in Scotland.

On-going delivery of Phase II small grant: Clyde Marine Planning Partnership: Testing interaction methods for youth engagement in marine planning. Final report expected in early 2018.

The Sea Scotland 2017 event on the implications of Brexit was a highly successful event and provided a critical platform for exploring the risks, challenges and opportunities. It focussed on the guidance provided by other, non-EU mechanisms which can support progress towards sustainable development during the highly uncertain transition and ultimately exit of the EU. This included OSPAR, ICES and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will increasingly influence governance in general, and including the marine area. The report and activity around developing the conference has led to interactions which will support on-going involvement of scientists, through collaboration with other actors (NGOs, regulators, industry, etc.), in engaging with the Brexit process. The sponsorship of the MASTS Forum and the time of the Forum Leader and Deputy Leader was instrumental in delivering this second SS event, and there is a great deal of momentum and interest in future events.


Marine Renewable Energy

The forum has held regular face to face and on-line meetings.  A major activity was the writing retreat held jointly with Marine Planning and Governance.  The forum has also been engaged in developing strategic roadmaps for the ORE SuperGen Hub.

The writing retreat (Nov 5-10, The Burn) which was run jointly with MASTS MSP Forum was an incredible success with everyone participating finding it extremely useful and productive time. In total the 8 people produced and worked on up to 16 papers with 7 ready to submit by the end of the retreat and most of the rest estimated to be submitted just before Christmas break.

Strategic Roadmaps.  The continuing participation by MASTS MREF on the development of strategic roadmaps within the new ORE SuperGen Hub process has led to EPSRC asking for the combination of wind, wave and tide research to be done in a ‘whole system format’ – allowing true multi-disciplinary approaches to be applied in this next important round of offshore renewables funding. B Scott appointed as Co-Director to cover all things ‘environmental’. Writing proposal for 4 year (£5m) plan Dec 4-5 (due Jan 18th 2018).


Sustainable Aquaculture

This Forum would be meeting in early 2018 under the new leadership of Dr Adam Hughes


Related news for Productive Seas