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Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor Marine (OCSAM)

MRV Scotia at nightThe aim of the Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor Marine (OCSAM) is to foster Scottish, UK and international co-operation in the areas of natural, economic and social marine science and provide clear advice to the Scottish Government and other International Organisations. Sitting as part of Marine Scotland, it will help shape critical decisions on the future of Scotland’s marine and freshwater environment, natural resources and aquaculture and their contribution to growing Scotland’s economy while working to ensure that Scotland’s marine and freshwater fisheries science base is secure and is developed in support of those areas. 

Scotland has a vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine and coastal environments managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people. In 2015, marine tourism was valued at £3.4 billion and Scotland's core marine industries employed 79,000 people. In 2016, Atlantic salmon aquaculture was worth £765 million with wild fisheries coming in at £557 million at first sale. However, the global nature of ocean flow and the movement of marine resources are such that it is necessary to gather information from many sources both close to and distant from Scottish shores. OCSAM has a role in integrating this evidence base and ensuring that the evidence and data required are well managed, quality assured, accessible and appropriately presented.

Evidence Base

Marine issues have a very strong national and international perspective with a wide range of Scottish, UK and International organisations contributing to the evidence base. Although there is already a level of national, UK and international co-operation through bodies such as the OSPAR Commission, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the United Nations, there is a need to further develop the co-operation and focus the science so that there is a clear emphasis on both understanding how marine systems function, but more critically, how various human activities are affecting our seas and what action is required.   

For example, climate change and ocean acidification are two of the largest threats to Scottish seas, while at a smaller scale, specific human activities place significant pressures on marine systems. To ensure optimal use of Scottish seas, greater co-ordination and distillation of the scientific evidence is required.

The Scottish Government is working to strengthen the role of science within government and the Chief Scientific Advisor Marine (who heads up OCSAM) will work with the other Chief Scientific Advisors within the Scottish Government, the Heads of Analysis and others in associated organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Agri-Food Biosciences Institute. It will also look to maintain active links with the research community in the UK, where possible using the network already established through the Marine Alliance for Science and technology Scotland (MASTS).  

The areas of particular focus are:

  • human activities affecting the marine environment

  • indicators of environmental pressure and state

  • marine and freshwater fisheries

  • the benefits of marine to the rural economy

  • climate change

  • food security

  • marine animal health

  • shelf seas, the slope and deep water

  • data quality

  • the accessibility and presentation of marine information