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Photo of SealResearch supports policy development within the Scottish Government. Projects undertaken cover a wide range of issues relating to marine mammals and, where appropriate, are conducted in partnership with other organisations.

These include:

Current Research Projects

Marine Mammal Scientific Support Research Programme

This is a major strategic marine mammal research programme to meet the ongoing and increasing need for marine mammal scientific support and to provide advice to Scottish Ministers across a range of key policy areas. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews, working with a number of collaborating organisations has carried out this research since 2011. The project is funded by the Scottish Government, with additional support from Scottish National Heritage (SNH) with three specific research themes (Marine Renewable Energy, Harbour Seal Decline and Seal and Salmon Interactions) prioritised.

The first phase of this research programme was completed in March 2015. A summary of the major findings as well as the final reports associated with this research programme can be found on the SMRU website. The second phase of the research programme commenced in April 2015 with a main focus on harbour seal decline and marine renewable energy.

More information about the project can be found on the Marine Mammal Scientific Support Research Programme page.

Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme

This is an on-going project which provides a systematic and co-ordinated approach to the surveillance of marine animal strandings. It builds on the wider UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) which is supported by Scottish Government. A Final Contract Report containing the main findings between 2012 and 2015, is now available to download. 

The project helps meet several UK reporting obligations, in particular for ASCOBANS, OSPAR, Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the EU Habitats Directive.  In June 2015, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme were awarded a new three year contract until June 2018 to continue to fulfil these obligations. It aims to collate, analyse and report data for all cetacean, marine turtle, seal and basking shark strandings around the Scottish coast; to determine the causes of death; and to undertake surveillance on the incidence of disease in stranded cetaceans in order to identify any substantial new threats to their conservation status. The project website has more information, including annual reports, Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme.

Completed Research Projects

The Environment Directorate has further information on some Research and Development Programmes currently being undertaken by the Scottish Government.