Latest News from SRSL...
The SRSL report entitled 'Investigating the Impacts of Marine Invasive Non-Native Species (NECR223)' was published on the Natural England website earlier this month and represents the conclusion of another successful project for the Government's advisory body for the natural environment in England. Download a copy here http://bit.ly/2cHzCZa
Natural England say "Non-native species can become invasive, altering local ecology and out-competing native species. However, we currently lack evidence on the impacts that some of these species have on the environment, in particular to features of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and how best to incorporate the presence and potential impacts caused by invasive non-native species (INNS) in the assessment of site condition.
The Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 sites (IPENS) identified INNS as a key issue impacting our Natura 2000 sites. The theme plan of key actions includes gathering evidence on impacts to encourage uptake of best practice and also gathering evidence to help determine priority species to address. The aims of this project were to carry out a literature review and gather evidence from stakeholders on the environmental (with a particular focus on MPA features) and socioeconomic impacts of 8 key marine INNS.
This report provides a useful reference source for information about both the economic and environmental impacts of 8 marine INNS which will help feed into improvements in our advice to operators on the potential impacts of invasive species, in turn helping us to encourage the uptake of mitigation and best practice to reduce the introduction and spread of these species. For example, new information previously unpublished and gathered from stakeholders includes anecdotal evidence of economic impacts from the trumpet tube worm F. enigmaticus and the leathery sea-squirt S. clava.
The focus of this report to provide evidence on potential susceptibility of MPA features in particular and the generation of a matrix tool which can be adapted in future to incorporate more species and new information will provide our staff and others with overview of potential risks and priorities. This information will feed into the guidance being developed on the condition assessment process as it will help staff to assess the potential threats of invasive species on the MPA.
Finally, the information gathered in this report will be provided to the GB Non Native Species Secretariat to input into risk assessments currently being written or not yet started for these 8 species. The recommendation to review the risk assessment process to include specific impacts to MPAs will also be taken forward for consideration."
Following on from the publication of new best-practice guidelines for marine biosecurity back in 2014, the authors of the previous study have now published a scientific paper on their findings (Cook, Elizabeth, et al. "Marine biosecurity: protecting indigenous marine species." Research and Reports in Biodiversity Studies 5 (2016): 1-14). The paper was published in January of this year and adds important scientific credibility to the biofouling services offered by SRSL, which aim to help marine users prevent the introduction of invasive non-native species and avoid prosecution under the amended Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act.
This publication preceded the award of another interesting project for SRSL and SAMS, which aims to create a detailed map of the type, speed of growth and prevalence of biofouling species, with the aim of better informing the operation and maintenance of sub-sea equipment in the UK. The project is a collaborative project with multimple partners, and led by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult (see previous news item, February 2016).
Please download a copy of the paper HERE.
An unusual new project to take a close up look at the creatures responsible for biofouling could shed new light on the secret life of the UK’s seas.
The project could ultimately see the creation of a detailed map to identify the type, speed of growth and prevalence of attaching species – a process known as ‘biofouling’ - with the aim of better informing the operation and maintenance of sub-sea equipment.
The project is being led by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s flagship technology and innovation centre specialising in offshore renewables, and involves SRSL. Other partners include the commercial arm of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, PML Applications Ltd, as well as international paint manufacturer AkzoNobel.
The overall aim of the project is to map for the first time how communities of these attaching, or ‘sessile’, creatures vary around the UK’s coast and to develop a sensor to measure their growth rates, charting in detail the potential impact they have on subsea equipment and their effect on functionality.
Leading the project is Vicky Coy, ORE Catapult project manager. She said: “Biofouling is a huge issue both in the UK and across the world. We work closely with offshore renewable energy technology developers and biofouling is repeatedly highlighted to us as a potential challenge for the renewables industry and related sectors. These organisms often attach in large numbers, creating particular problems for offshore renewables structures and the associated operational activities, adding weight, clogging machinery and accelerating deterioration.
“While much is known about these communities, this is the first time they have been looked at in this way, including the way growth patterns vary around the UK’s waters, and the impact they could have on renewables installations such as offshore wind and subsea tidal turbines, wave energy devices and their connected infrastructure. The project outcomes will also support greater understanding of the evolving bio-diversity of our seas.”
Many industries, including renewables, shipping and telecommunications, rely on subsea equipment for their day to day operations, however the growth of sessile creatures can have a detrimental effect on electricity production, maintenance operations, repairs and ultimately costs. The project will also look at the potential for developing sensors to monitor the type of biofouling occurring on subsea surfaces, measuring the type of growth, depth of growth and speed of fouling. Vicky continued: “We are working on a feasibility study to establish a unique mapping tool that will indicate the likely species to be encountered in the UK’s waters, including the rates of growth and their thicknesses, as these vary greatly around our diverse coastline. Using this information, we plan to develop a sensor that can measure the real-time growth of these communities, giving industry insight into the impacts on their infrastructure.
“These tools could be invaluable to the offshore energy industry and, indeed, many subsea enterprises, as well as deliver an unprecedented close-up look at the biodiversity existing on man-made structures in the UK’s waters. We will continue to engage with industry as we shape this project going forward.”
Dr Raeanne Miller is a marine scientist at SAMS and works alongside Dr Adrian MacLeod of SRSL on biofouling. She said: “The build-up of marine organism growth, or biofouling, is well-known to result in severe operational issues and increased down-time across a range of marine industries – offshore renewable energy included. “The type of biofouling around UK waters varies greatly. Biologists already have some tools and datasets to predict the type of biofouling which may develop on subsea structures and more data will continue to support the assessment of forthcoming sites for development and the planning for accurate maintenance and cleaning levels.
“Mapping these habitats won’t just be useful for industry, it could be a hugely important tool to help preserve indigenous species and protect our seabeds.”
Dense marine growth on structures such as marine buoys or turbines can weigh in excess of 22kg per square metre, causing large increases in structural load and accelerating damage, particularly on moving components.
Dr Tracy Shimmield, managing director of SAMS Research Services Ltd, has been called up to an elite business forum, chaired by the Deputy First Minister of Scotland. She joined fellow members of Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum at their first meeting in Edinburgh University Business School on Wednesday, May 20.
The group, made up of representatives from academia and private, public and third sectors, will be the leading force in creating greater levels of demand for, and investment in, business innovation for the benefit of the whole Scottish economy.
Dr Shimmield said: “It is a privilege to be asked to join the Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum, which I believe can put business innovation at the forefront of political discussion.
“Lots of Scottish companies, like SRSL, are proving that this country is still a global leader in innovation and can offer world-leading expertise in various sectors of business.
“I hope that this forum will champion Scotland’s innovative business community and help it to open up new markets across the globe.”
Speaking ahead of the first meeting at Edinburgh University Business School, Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum, Chair Mr Swinney said: “Scotland CAN DO is a platform for all sectors to further sharpen our focus on creating sustainable economic growth. Our vision is to make a Scotland as a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation - a CAN DO place for business.
“The Forum will play a crucial role in driving forward demand for, and investment in, business innovation ensuring that innovation can make a lasting and positive difference to the Scottish economy.
“This government is focused on growing our economy and this new forum will help to ensure that Scotland’s economy is one where growth is based on innovation, change and openness to new ways of doing things.”
Marine scientists from SAMS Group who conducted the first study into the impacts of mine tailings disposal into the deep sea have been recognised by a prestigious scientific journal.
Researchers from SAMS and SRSL conducted surveys in Papua New Guinea into the effects of deep-sea tailings placement (DSTP) on seabed biological communities.
Their findings, which have been published by Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports, demonstrate significant and long-term impacts on the seabed ecosystem at depths down to 2,000 metres.
In November and December 2007 the team of scientists – Dr David Hughes, Dr Tracy Shimmield, Professor Kenneth Black and Dr John Howe – took seabed samples at various stations around the islands of Lihir and Misima, comparing untouched areas of the seabed with areas receiving discharges of finely-ground rock slurry from mines on the islands.
At the Lihir gold mine, which discharges 100,000 megalitres of tailings slurry every year – the equivalent of 40,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – the numbers of worms, molluscs and other small, sediment-dwelling animals are drastically reduced in areas directly affected by tailings.
At Misima, where DSTP took place for 15 years, ending in 2004, their results showed that the seabed community was recolonising the area affected by tailings but its composition was still very different three-and-a-half years after the end of tailings discharge.
Lead author Dr David Hughes said: ‘The waste material from these mines is made up of fine particles of rock and chemicals from the mineral extraction stage. The waste product is dense enough to fall onto the seabed but fine enough to be disturbed. No-one had looked at the effect of DSTP in the deep sea until now, but it’s in the interest of mining companies to know what effect their tailings have on the seabed. From a scientific point of view, we also need to understand how long it will take for the ecosystem to recover from this type of disturbance.’
SRSL is an industry leader in DSTP and can advise mining companies on how best to dispose of mine tailings, reducing potential harm to the marine environment.
Dr Tracy Shimmield, SRSL managing director, said: ‘With a worldwide demand for minerals there is a need for sustainable methods of mine waste management.
‘DSTP is becoming an increasingly used practice and our research shows that there is an impact. However, by better understanding the environment in which the tailings may be placed, there is an opportunity to minimise any impact.
‘It is important that scientists, industry and governments work together to provide information to allow the best decisions to be made.
‘This research shows we at SRSL have the expertise to conduct this work effectively and produce accurate data that has been recognised by the global science community.’
The paper, entitled “Ecological impacts of large-scale disposal of mining waste in the deep sea”, is based on a project undertaken on behalf of the Department of Environment and Conservation of Papua New Guinea. As a result of the study, the government has, alongside SRSL, developed general guidelines for the use of DSTP in the country. SRSL has also created specific guidelines for the companies operating two of the mines in Papua New Guinea.
On July 22nd, SRSL will be exhibiting at the Life & Chemical Sciences Showcase at Scotland house with parent organisation the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
The Life & Chemical Sciences Showcase is just one of the workshops and events that will take place at Scotland House in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games 2014. Scotland House partners including Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland, EventScotland, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau will host a range of business to business events during Games time. The events aim to promote collaboration and partnerships between sectors, and to assist companies to break into new markets.
Unveiling the programme, the First Minister said: “Between the Scotland House programme and the Commonwealth Games Business Conference, Scotland has an exceptional platform to show the Commonwealth there is no better export than our people and our ingenuity. Our Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy goes beyond sport and I want to see Scotland grasp those opportunities with both hands.”
The British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dominic Jermey, CVO OBE, hosted an evening reception on May 10th to celebrate the establishment of a branch office of SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL) in Abu Dhabi.
The reception took place at the residence of the Ambassador to celebrate the signing of a Sponsorship Agreement between the H.E. Eid Bakheet Al Mazrouei and SRSL.
SRSL will develop commercial, research and educational links between the SAMS Group in Oban and clients in the UAE. The agreement is part of a long-term initiative to build a marine economy in the country utilising a regional workforce, based on the model of the Scottish Marine Institute and the European Marine Science Park.
[Photograph of signing ceremony was taken by David Sutch, of the British Business Group in Abu Dhabi].
NEW BEST-PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR MARINE BIOSECURITY PLANNING IN SCOTLAND PRODUCED BY SRSL
In response to new Scottish legislation, and on behalf of the Firth of Clyde Forum and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), SRSL in partnership with Robin Payne, have developed guidelines on producing robust biosecurity plans for the marine environment. These will help Scottish marine users prevent the introduction of invasive non-native species and avoid prosecution under the amended Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act.
Non-native species (NNS) are species that are outside their natural. Human activities, such as increased international shipping have led to the dramatic increase in the number of NNS introduced globally. It is now estimated that invasive NNS cost British marine industries approximately £40 million per year in reduced efficiency, productivity and elimination expenses. Those heaviest hit include aquaculture, fisheries, power generation and shipping. More than 90 marine NNS have been identified from British and Irish waters, of which seventeen are now established in Scotland.
The guidelines were commissioned by the Firth of Clyde Forum and SNH in response to recent changes to the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2001, which is supported by a new Code of Practice on non-native species. Dr Adrian MacLeod of SRSL, who was instrumental in developing the new guidelines, explains “The changes mean it is now an offence to introduce NNS to Scottish waters through commercial or recreational marine activities, even if the introduction was unintentional”.
These legislative changes empower government agencies to serve Voluntary, Statutory and finally Emergency Species Control Orders (SCOs) on businesses to reverse the situation. Where offences occur, measures taken to eradicate NNS will be financed on a ‘Polluter Pays Principal’. This has the potential to be costly for businesses, which could be temporarily shut-down and may be charged for imposed clean-up operations.
For this reason, the new Code of Practice sets a precedent for the implementation of biosecurity plans for all sites, operations or events in the marine environment. As a specialist marine consultancy, SRSL has unique expertise in advising businesses on preparing and implementing marine biosecurity plans, as well as providing training in this area. The guidelines they produced are available for download from the SNH website http://www.snh.gov.uk/policy-and-guidance/guidance-documents/document/?category_code=Guidance&topic_id=1628
“The Firth of Clyde Forum has been working on marine invasive NNS for a number of years and following the publication of our biosecurity plan for the Clyde and the subsequent revision of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, we felt there was a need to supply some guidance about what best practice in marine biosecurity might look like” - Sarah Brown, Firth of Clyde Forum
Download the SRSL Press Release HERE
SRSL will be exhibiting at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen on May 21-22nd this year. Visit us at stand HIE40 (Highlands and Islands Pavilion) to hear more about the services that SRSL supply to the marine renewable energy sector and to discuss how we can help you with your development project.
All Energy will also be attended by a number of our scientific delivery staff; leaders in their respective fields of expertise. Speak to our scientists to find out how we apply cutting-edge science to solving industry problems and help our clients understand and mitigate the risks involved in industry interaction with the marine environment.
This year we will be launching our new Biosecurity Planning services:
In response to new legislation in Scotland, and on behalf of the Firth of Clyde Forum and Scottish Natural Heritage, SRSL have produced a set of guidelines on how to produce robust biosecurity plans for the marine environment, which will help Scottish marine users prevent the introduction of invasive non-native species and avoid prosecution under the amended Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act.
Non-native species (NNS) are marine species that have been introduced to waters outside their natural range by human action. It is now estimated that invasive NNS cost the marine industries of Great Britain approximately £40 million per year in reduced efficiency, productivity and elimination expenses. The heaviest hit industries to date include aquaculture, fisheries and shipping but the problem is also expected to heavily impact marine renewable energy developments. More than 90 marine NNS have been identified from British waters (seventeen established in Scotland). For more information on what SRSL can do for your company's Biosecurity Plan, click HERE.
SRSL is attending an international workshop organised by Dutch consultancy Ecorys and GRID Arendal on deep-sea mining on 30 April 2014, in Brussels to support informed decision making and awareness-raising (GRID-Arendal is an environmental centre which collaborates with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The meeting is being organised as part of a study in 'Support of Impact Assessment Work on Blue Biotechnology', carried out for the European Commission, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The workshop is targeted at a small number of key experts, of which Dr Tracy Shimmield from SRSL is one.
The aim of this event is to discuss findings of on-going study on deep-sea mining and to allow for an interactive discussion on possible environmental impacts. One day prior to this event, on 29 April, another workshop is held with a focus on technological aspects of deep-sea mining, which will also be of interest to SRSL and clients in the deep-sea mining sector.
SRSL provide environmental consultancy and survey services in support of the mining industry, with a focus on deep-sea environmental impacts.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently published a report summarising research findings that support the development of a monitoring programme for new or unknown (emerging) marine biotoxins in Shellfish in UK waters. This work was carried out through a collaboration between scientists at SRSL’s parent organisation, SAMS and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Agriculture Science (CEFAS) in 2012-2013. The review provided a comprehensive risk assessment of newly emerging toxins reported worldwide and identified and prioritised the potential risks for the UK. The report states that “some of the phytoplankton responsible for the production of toxins have been detected in UK waters. In addition, a number of toxic species have been identified which, although not currently present in UK waters, have the potential to become established.” The full report, including species listings can be downloaded HERE:
The project team also assessed the suitability of existing methods for the detection of these algae and toxins, and identified knowledge gaps where further research could be focused.
The project was commissioned in response to recent amendments to EU hygiene legislation (EU 2074/2005) which have introduced a requirement for member states to carry out periodic monitoring for emerging marine toxins. Currently, the UK does not have a specific monitoring programme for such toxins. This benchmark report will therefore play a fundamental role in informing the design of a future monitoring programme for emerging marine shellfish biotoxins in the UK and in supporting the UK’s negotiations relating to monitoring requirements as part of the EU.
This report also describes the dynamic ecological and legislative backdrop against which SRSL delivers the Environmental Monitoring Programme for the Presence of Toxin-Producing Plankton in Shellfish Production Areas in Scotland on behalf of the FSA (2005-2015). Key authors contributing to this newly published report now work for SRSL in the delivery of this ongoing environmental monitoring contract. For more information on this SRSL project visit www.srsl.com/aquaculture/phytoplankton-monitoring
Dr Adrian MacLeod from SRSL will be presenting at the Offshore Mariculture conference in Naples this week (9-11th April). His presentation is entitled 'Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) and Macroalgal Cultivation' and summarises the research findings of key scientists working on IMTA at SRSL's parent organisation, the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), while outlining the services that SRSL provide in this area, in support of the growing aquaculture industry. The presentation is at 14:20 on Thursday 10th in Session Eight – Integrating Offshore Mariculture with Renewable Energy.
Dr Adrian MacLeod is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Consultant with a number of unique specialisms including marine biofouling, invasive species, biosecurity planning and macroalgal cultivation. He has a doctorate in the role of marine renewable energy and bio-fouling communities in promoting self-sustaining populations of non-native species. He has coordinated and authored a wide range of technical reports for commercial aquaculture and renewable energy projects alike, and is a skilled communicator of mitigation and best practice advice as it relates to the renewable energy and aquaculture industries in Scotland.
The conference will benefit fish farmers who are either growing their offshore fish farming business or it will prove beneficial to those who are looking to move their businesses offshore. The programme will explore the progress and prospects for offshore aquaculture in both European and international waters and includes a technical visit to a fish farm allowing delegates a comprehensive insight in to how offshore fish farms are operating today: www.offshoremariculture.com
SRSL provide baseline surveys and specialist marine environmental consultancy services in IMTA and macroalgal cultivation.