USTAN - The University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is a non-profit higher educational establishment and a registered charity in Scotland (No SC013532).  Founded in 1413, it is Scotland’s top-rated research institution.  

The University has over 8,000 students currently enrolled and 1800 staff. Within the University, the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the Gatty Marine Laboratory is a global leader in research into marine mammals and the role of top predators in the marine environment.  Over 50 staff, post graduate students and research fellows within the SMRU contribute a range of expertise. Founded in 1971 and formerly a government funded research laboratory, the SMRU has been a partner in a large number of EU-funded projects over the past twenty years.  

The Unit monitors pinniped and cetacean populations around the UK, and further afield, and is a major contributor to ICES, EU and other intergovernmental advisory bodies regarding marine mammal ecology and conservation. The Unit also monitors fishing activities by UK vessels throughout the NE Atlantic under national obligations to monitor incidental mortality of non-target species, including all those covered by the habitats directive.  An extensive database on fishing activity and non-target catches is maintained within the Unit.  The Unit also works on addressing how human activities (including acoustic disturbance and renewable energy installations) impact marine mammal individuals and populations.  The Unit also works on measures to mitigate non-target bycatch. The Unit is also responsible for mapping the distribution of certain protected species and a part of this work includes mapping fishing fleet effort too.  

Contribution to the project

USTAN will mainly be involved in WP3, notably task 3.2.  USTAN will provide information relating to bycatch rates of sensitive species, and on the distribution of non target species, life history data – either based on unpublished data held within the Unit, on literature reviews, or, as required, on biological analyses of samples collected during bycatch monitoring operations. The extensive observer scheme database that is maintained at the Unit will also be used to determine fine scale distribution  of fishing effort of certain key fisheries where exact fishing locations have been recorded over a long time period and through a wide range of vessels.

The scientific team

Simon Northridge is a senior lecturer in the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews.  He has worked on issues related to marine mammal bycatch and competition with fisheries for over 25 years. He has worked on several EU projects addressing this and related issues, and has also worked on similar themes for FAO and UNEP.  Since 1995 he has been running a fishery observer scheme on board UK fishing vessels to quantify incidental catches of non-target species including marine mammals. He is chair of the ICES Study Group on Bycatch and also chaired the STECF SGFEN Subgroup on Cetacean Bycatch.

Al Kingston manages the observer programme on a day to day basis and is responsible for maintaining the database. He also has extensive experience working at sea and sampling a wide range of fisheries. He has a particular interest in the selectivity of different fisheries for different non-target species.
27 JANUARY 2022