20 univ st andrews


The Scottish Oceans Institute is a newly established (2009) University Institute that brings together expertise in marine science from across the University of St Andrews in three schools, of biology, mathematics and geosciences. The Sea Mammal Research Unit is a part of the SOI but also provides formal advice to UK government departments on the conservation and management of marine mammals. The SMRU is at the forefront of research into marine mammals globally, though its expertise also ranges more broadly. Its research is largely aimed at policy-oriented questions regarding marine conservation and management. SMRU has operated a bycatch monitoring and mitigation programme in the UK since 1995 focused on all protected species, and has led or been involved with numerous EU funded projects over the past 15 years including SCANS, SCANS-II, CODA, BYCARE, NECESSITY, FACTS, BECAUSE and DEFINEIT.

Contribution to the project: USTAN will:

  1. investigate the relationship between fishing effort and bycatch, in order to provide parameterised sub-models that can be used within ecological and bio-economic models, work that supports the development of novel MSY variants that take account of bycatch as a ‘penalty’ for ecological costs of fishing,
  2. provide estimates of removals of fish by marine mammals, for inclusion in multi-species ecosystem models so that MSY can be evaluated in a realistic, multi-species context,
  3. help develop valuations for nontarget species,
  4. assist in modelling changes in fleet effort within the North Sea.

Description of PIs involved in the project:

  • Simon Northridge is a senior lecturer in the School of Biology. He has a PhD in Fisheries Science from Imperial College, an MSc in Biological Computation and an MA in Zoology. His primary interest is in understanding the interactions between fisheries and top predators including marine mammals1. He has thirty years of experience working on marine mammal fishery interactions. He has run the UK’s bycatch monitoring programme for protected species since 1995, but also works on marine mammal distribution and diet. He has worked closely with the fishing industry since 1995, and has also chaired several international working groups and workshops on issues to do with protected species bycatch (ICES WGBYC, WKRev812, WKOSBOMB, and SGFEN/STECF). His role within the MYFISH project will be to help develop models that explicitly take account of bycatch of and prey consumption by protected species, to help parameterise models of the North Sea that require detailed information on fleet effort; he also has a keen interest in safety at sea and will address this issue within the framework of MYFISH..
  • Sophie Smout works at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Centre for Ecological and Environmental Modelling at the University of St Andrews, with a focus on the role of marine mammals as predators in the marine ecosystem. Her PhD thesis describes Bayesian methods for analysing interactions between marine mammals and their prey, and spatial models used to estimate predator-prey overlap. During the BECAUSE project, she investigated the likely impacts of marine mammals on fisheries in the North Sea and Barents Sea2. Under the FACTS project, she is currently investigating the effects of prey availability on seabird foraging success. She was recently an independent referee invited by DFO to review policy advice on the potential impacts of grey seals on cod in Atlantic Canada. Her role within the MYFISH project will be to estimate removals of fish by marine mammals (based on fixed diet estimates, or on estimated preference/functional response parameters where data is available to parameterise such relationships), to parameterise bycatch-effort models for marine mammals and elasmobranchs, and to work on incorporating these sub-models within the broader ecosystem frameworks that will be used to explore the consequences of management under different variants of MSY3.
  • Sophy McCully works for CEFAS as a Fisheries Data Analyst and is also doing her PhD at St Andrews where she is focused on the conservation and management of elasmobranchs, with a specific interest in their susceptibility and vulnerability to different fisheries. She is a member of ICES WGEF and has delivered several working papers and presentations to international meetings on elasmobranch fisheries and bycatch. She will augment data from the SMRU on marine mammals with data from CEFAS on elasmobranch bycatch and distribution.

flagsThe research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 /2007-2013) under grant agreement no 289257. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which maybe made of the information contained therein.