Scottish Marine Science Strategy 2010-2015

This report was published in March 2011.

“This document sets out the high level priorities and objectives needed to ensure that marine science 1 in Scotland supports the Government’s single purpose of “creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth”. It fulfils the commitment in the Marine Scotland Strategic Plan to prepare a science strategy that supports the commitment ‘to manage Scotland’s seas for prosperity and environmental sustainability’ and addresses the Government’s strategic objectives of a ‘Wealthier and Fairer’ and a ‘Greener’ Scotland.

The strategy sets the direction for the public bodies in Scotland with a responsibility for policy, management, monitoring and environmental protection in our seas. It also seeks to inform other marine organisations of Scottish priorities. This strategy recognises that public sector resources will be severely constrained over the coming years and that stringent prioritisation, collaboration and sharing of services will be essential to ensure delivery.

Public interest in our seas and the way we use them has never been greater. The importance of managing these precious assets responsibly is recognised in the recent Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 which establishes a framework to manage human activity to secure the benefits we derive from the oceans.

Scotland’s seas are assets that directly generate billions of pounds for the Scottish economy, through a variety of industries such as shipping, fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas and tourism. They are also vital to the well-being and enjoyment of Scotland’s people. A recent study conservatively estimated that the value of ecosystem services alone in estuarine and coastal waters is at least £11 billion per annum.

Our coasts and seas encompass a rich cultural heritage and are also biologically productive containing over 40,000 species with internationally important populations of marine mammals and seabirds and other features. It is this rich biodiversity that is responsible for much of the ecosystem services provided by our marine environment.

We can reap substantial economic rewards from the sea by ensuring that resources are utilised sustainably and focussing on key areas of economic activity. The Government Economic Strategy identifies a number of sectors to which the Government will give particular attention. Those of most relevance to this science strategy are:

  • Energy (with a particular focus on renewable energy);
  • Food and Drink (including agriculture 2 & fisheries);
  • Tourism

Some of these sectors have significance beyond simply sustainable economic growth. Renewable energy is especially important in relation to energy security and reducing emissions such as carbon dioxide. Aquaculture and fisheries have importance in food security as well as providing food for a healthy diet. Tourism, recreational fisheries, clean bathing beaches and ecotourism all have particular importance in supporting remote communities.

The Economic Strategy also sees protecting and enhancing Scotland’s biodiversity and landscape for future generations as integral to the Government’s thinking. This is consistent with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) that requires Member States to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status of their waters and forms the environmental pillar of the EU Maritime Policy. It has major implications for marine science in the development of appropriate targets, indicators, assessment criteria and monitoring programmes to acquire relevant data.”

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