Submission from the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
1. This memorandum outlines Defra's role
in supporting marine science. Specifically it details Defra's
need for scientific evidence in support of its marine-related
policies. It also covers: our organisation of marine science and
the scope and content of our programmes; our role in science co-ordination
and collaboration; and our support for the skills base. Reference
is made to climate change and marine reserves, two topics highlighted
by the Inquiry.
2. Defra takes the UK lead and has a major
interest in a significant number of international, European and
national marine-related policy areas. Defra's policies are evidenced-based
and science plays a key part in providing that evidence and in
meeting statutory assessment and monitoring requirements.
3. Defra is a major supporter of marine
science, spending approximately £26 million annually. Monitoring
the marine environment helps Defra maintain an up-to-date assessment
of the state of our seas and the effectiveness of our management
policies. Research helps interpret the results of our monitoring
programmes and assists us in adopting and developing appropriate
4. Our seas provide us with valuable economic,
social, environmental and cultural benefits. The marine area offers
an important potential source of renewable energy and our seas
and coastline are enjoyed by tourists and residents for holidays
and recreation. They are also home to many important species and
habitats. The seabed contains important sources of minerals, including
aggregates which are used by the building industry, and there
are oil and gas reserves that contribute significantly to our
energy requirements. The seabed may in the future be used for
carbon capture and storage. The UK has an important sea fish industry
with one of the largest fishing fleets and fish processing industries
in Europe. An IACMST publication estimated that marine-related
activities in total contributed approximately 5% of the UK's GDP.
(Appendix 1 provides a list of acronyms).
5. The Government has principal stewardship
responsibilities for this important resource. The Marine Stewardship
Report Safeguarding our Seas
sets out our vision for managing and protecting the sea as an
important ecosystem and how we plan to achieve clean, safe, healthy,
productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. Delivering
this vision requires regular updates of our knowledge on how the
seas function and how they are impacted by human activities. Charting
sets out our current knowledge on the state of the seas. The proposed
will help develop and implement the necessary regulation and planning
regime for the sustainable use and protection of our seas, coasts,
estuaries and marine wildlife.
6. Within the context of this vision, Defra
takes the lead or has a major interest in a significant number
of international, European and national marine related policy
instruments, all aimed at managing human activities in order to
protect marine environment (Table 1).
7. For the marine environment, a key policy
objective is to have arrangements in place which demonstrate the
extent to which our seas and coasts are achieving good environmental,
ecological and chemical status. This is necessary to meet obligations
under the OSPAR Convention, the Water Framework Directive and
those emerging under the European Marine Strategy Directive which
is currently under negotiation.
8. At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development at Johannesburg (September 2002), the EU, and member
states, committed to maintain and restore fish stocks to levels
that can produce the maximum sustainable yield by no later than
2015, and to establish representative networks of marine protected
areas by 2012.
9. Defra therefore has many significant
and wide-ranging policy responsibilities within the marine area.
Our national and international policies are evidenced-based and
marine science plays a key part in providing that evidence. Our
science programmes, and the other evidence we draw on, contribute
directly to decision making, including licence consents for human
activities in the sea, fisheries management and the development
of EU legislation. For these reasons we need high quality, credible
science which the Department, our stakeholders and the public
can have confidence in.
10. Defra's science programmes encompass
both monitoring and research. Monitoring the marine environment
helps the UK maintain an up-to-date assessment of the state of
our seas and the effectiveness of our management policies. Research
helps interpret the results of our monitoring programmes and assists
us in developing appropriate management measures, and interpreting
their effectiveness. In addition to funding the more specific
policy related science, we also commission strategic research
which helps us understand long-term variability in the marine
environment and the concept of sustainability.
Science supported by Defra
11. Defra is a major supporter of marine
science and annually spends approximately £26 million on
marine-related science. Table 2 sets out the extensive scope and
content of our programmes. Specific project details and research
results are available online.
12. For marine environment our research
and monitoring programmes allow us to assess progress towards
our vision of clean, safe, healthy, productive and biodiverse
13. For marine biodiversity science
is helping to underpin measures to promote strong, healthy and
resilient marine ecosystems.
14. For water quality the reduction
of diffuse water pollution from agriculture and other sources
through mitigation will help to improve and protect the quality
of inland waters, which will be benefit coastal and marine regions.
Under the Water Framework Directive, measures advised by science
will be developed for each river basin district to ensure that
good ecological status is achieved and maintained.
15. For fisheries management, our
aim is a fishing sector that is profitable and supports strong
local communities, managed effectively as a full part of coherent
policies for the marine environment. Our science programme enables
us to assess the status of the stocks, understand key biological
attributes such as migration, and the impact of fisheries measures.
16. For flood and coastal management
Defra has a joint programme of research with the Environment
Agency that includes work on the physical behaviour of estuary
and coastal systems, related management approaches and their social,
environmental and economic impacts.
17. For climate change, Defra supports
a programme of research to increase our understanding of current
climate change and its possible future evolution, including projections
of sea-level rise, ocean heat uptake, thermohaline circulation
and sea ice coverage. Defra also has a long-term commitment to
international ocean monitoring programmes, which measures sea
temperatures and salinity, and is a major funder of knowledge
transfer through MCCIP.
Programme development and quality assurance
18. Defra commissions marine science for
the principal purpose of providing evidence to policy development.
A number of measures have been adopted by Defra to ensure the
science programme is fit for purpose, robust, of good quality,
and delivers the necessary evidence. These measures include:
In 2004 Defra embarked on a
comprehensive Evidence and Innovation (E&I) review aimed at
defining its science strategy for 2005-08.
A key part of the process involved science budget holders setting
out their Statements of Need, describing strategic policy priorities,
evidence needs and innovation opportunities.
E&I helped identify future evidence needs, and the potential
for collaborative working.
Individual research programmes
are usually reviewed every three to five years, a process involving
external experts to help us assess programme progress and set
There is a vigorous process
of peer review, including evaluation of project proposals and
final reports. Open competition in some research areas helps widen
our contractor base.
19. The E&I review identified a number
of key science requirements and challenges which the department
will need to address in the coming years. Our knowledge of the
marine environment as a whole is still far from complete. We need
to enhance our understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning
and its vulnerability to human impacts and climate change.
20. Priorities for further science are wide
ranging covering biology, ocean processes, socio-economic impacts,
new technologies and data management. We need to develop appropriate
marine ecosystem indicators, map marine habitats, develop risk
analysis frameworks, extrapolate impact from the individual to
the population level and assess social and economic costs and
benefits of alternative policy options.
21. To fully comply with increasing demands
for evidence, the UKMMAS
states that there needs to be an additional £22 million per
year spent on sustained marine observations by UK Departments,
Agencies and industry. We acknowledge that Defra's current marine
science budget is not sufficient to meet all these needs.
National and international collaboration and partnerships
22. Budgets are finite and collaboration
with other funders within the UK and internationally is given
a high priority by Defra. Examples of significant collaboration
Charting Progress, co-ordinated
by Defra, drew on scientific evidence from nearly 60 organisations
across the UK. Following on from this, Defra has taken the lead
on two UK-wide collaborative partnerships on marine data (MDIP)
and on understanding climate change impacts (MCCIP).
Within the UK other government
departments, devolved administrations and agencies also have an
important role in developing marine policy. They similarly require
scientific evidence and Defra collaborates closely with these
science funders, including DTI, EA, MCA, NE, and JNCC.
Defra acts as UK co-ordinator
to the European GMES
programme. A significant part of this programme involves remote
sensing of our seas using satellites.
On behalf of other departments,
devolved administrations and agencies, Defra leads on the development
of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS).
This new strategy aims to shape the UK's ability to provide the
evidence to fulfil our vision. Linked to this the Fisheries and
Marine Science Customer Group, involving SEERAD, DARD NI and Defra
meet annually to review departments' priorities for science in
relation to fisheries and marine environment priorities and programme
Research Councils, including
NERC and ESRC, support high quality, strategic research which
is potentially of use to Defra and we are seeking to further develop
our links with Research Councils to enhance uptake from their
programmes into policy. For example as part of NERC's Oceans 2025
programme Defra, NERC and SEERAD are developing a collaboratively
funded programme "Sustainable Marine Bioresources".
We are also working with NERC to safeguard long-term evidence
Internationally, Defra is an
active participant in the European Commission funded ERA-NET (European
Research Area Network) scheme. For example we co-ordinate the
MariFish ERA-NET project which brings together the funders of
marine fisheries research from 15 countries whose total annual
spend on science exceeds 100 million.
Other relevant ERA-NETs in which Defra is involved include AMPERA
on accidental marine pollution, BIODIVERSA on biodiversity and
Defra also co-ordinates the CRUE project on flood management.
Through these ERA-NETs Defra is able to access results emerging
from research funded across Europe, and participate with our European
partners in jointly funded projects.
Defra encourages its contractors
to participate in Commission funded research programmes. For example
in 2006 Cefas, an agency of Defra, was involved in over 30 Framework
Programme projects, all of which received matching funds from
Defra. Projects involve collaboration with many other research
institutes. For example a project evaluating management tools
involved 28 partners from more than 10 countries.
Defra is an active participant
and supporter of key international bodies such as ICES and OSPAR.
Output from our science programmes provides evidence to these
bodies, helping for example with the adoption of new detection
and analysis techniques for pollutants and production of the overall
Quality Status Reports. Our Agency scientists work jointly with
those from other member states in the fish stock assessment process,
leading to the setting of annual quotas.
23. Defra's support for the marine science
skills base arises from its commissioning of science, as summarised
in Table 2, rather than through the direct funding of training
schemes. Evidence is procured from a wide contractor base, including
Defra's Executive Agency Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries
and Aquaculture Science), NERC's Marine Centres, universities
with marine-related science teams, and consultancy companies.
24. Recognising the special role that Cefas
has in the provision of science, Defra announced a plan in June
2006 to secure the long term sustainability of the agency. Under
this plan Defra will fund Cefas at broadly current levels, in
nominal terms, for at least 10 years. Plans also include the development
of a new fit for purpose laboratory facility. Defra will benefit
from the continued access to high-quality scientific services
to support government policy development and maintenance of skills.
25. A wide range of science skills are needed
in order to provide the necessary scientific evidence for policy
purposes. For example our assessment of ecosystem change arising
from natural or anthropogenic disturbance involves biologists,
chemists, physicists, statisticians, geologists, engineers and
socio-economic specialists. Skills in geographic information systems,
ecosystem analysis, acoustic habitat mapping and stable isotope
analysis all contribute to a more comprehensive understanding
of ecosystem functioning. Climate change modelling provides prediction
of future change, both globally and regionally and information
on the changes we can expect in the marine environment in the
26. As an intelligent customer for science,
Defra also has in-house scientists who manage the science programmes
and ensure that there is a comprehensive interpretation of the
results and uptake into policy. Good interpretation and communication
skills are needed by staff members to disseminate results to other
stakeholders and the wider public.
27. The Committee's inquiry includes a focus
on the use of marine sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).
SSSIs are one of a number of tools that can be used to protect
marine habitats and species and contribute to the attainment of
healthy, functioning and resilient ecosystems. There are currently
no entirely marine SSSIs in England or Wales although there are
a number of intertidal and estuarine SSSIs extending below the
high water mark.
28. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
have been designated to afford protection to marine species and
habitats of European importance. As yet there are no entirely
marine sites but Defra with its conservation agencies is actively
pursuing a programme to address this. Two sites, Lundy and Skomer,
have been designated as marine nature reserves (MNRs) under the
Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales.
29. The collection of baseline data
and the monitoring of marine sites provides invaluable information
on the diversity of our marine habitats and species, how they
function and the effectiveness of protected areas as a conservation
measure. For this reason Defra has funded monitoring at the
Lundy site over a number of years and this is providing a practical
insight into how an area closed to fishing helps protect vulnerable
species and habitats.
30. On a more general point, Defra also
has an interest in the role marine protected areas (MPAs) could
play in commercial fish stock recovery. In 2005 we funded a review
of MPAs in temperate North Atlantic waters which concluded that
MPAs are a valuable tool for the preservation and enhancement
of certain critical habitats and site attached shellfish and finfish
populations, but are less effective for mobile species.
31. Defra is taking a significant lead internationally
in identifying the potential impact that climate change is having
on our planet, and the need to adopt appropriate mitigating measures.
The high priority given to climate change by the UK Prime Minister
in his leadership of the G8 (January to December, 2005) and the
European Union (July to December 2005) has ensured that climate
issues remain high on the political agenda and climate change
is now firmly established as a political priority, both domestically
and globally. The detailed impacts of climate change on marine
ecosystems is not yet clear and this area of research is being
given high priority by Defra.
The role of marine science in understanding and
predicting climate change
32. As with all elements of Defra's policy,
science provides the evidence on which to base future developments
of climate change related policies. Many aspects of our interpretation
of marine science will need to take into account the potential
impact of this "environmental driver". Accurate up to
date information needs to be available to decision makers, managers
and stakeholders, as a fundamental basis for decision making.
33. To help provide the necessary focus
Defra leads the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP).
The aim of MCCIP is to provide a co-ordination framework for the
UK. It will enable the transfer of high quality evidence on marine
climate change impacts, and related advice, to policy advisors
and decision-makers. MCCIP (see footnote 28) will act as a focal
point for evidence and enable the UK to plan for the challenges
and opportunities presented by the impacts of climate change in
the marine environment. The first example of this is the Annual
Report Card launched in November 2006. MCCIP must draw on the
output from a vast array of R&D and modeling for its impact
assessment and will act as a knowledge transfer mechanism.
34. One impact of increasing carbon dioxide
concentrations in the atmosphere will be increasing acidification
of the oceans. At the global level this needs to be modelled and
predicted, and Defra is in close contact with the Plymouth Marine
Laboratory (PML) who lead work in this area in the UK.
35. In order to predict future climate and
reduce the uncertainties in projections, it is necessary to understand
the role of the Earth's oceans in the global climate system. Defra
funds an £11 million per annum research programme with the
Hadley Centre. Ocean modeling is an important component of the
state-of-the-art climate model which is being developed and run
to inform policies to address climate change.
36. Ocean observations are important for
the detection, monitoring and attribution of climate change and
the validation and the validation and further development of models.
Observations funded by Defra include instruments on the satellite
(for measuring sea surface temperatures with the accuracy necessary
to detect climate change) and ARGO,
a global network of profiling floats funded by over 20 nations
worldwide. The UK component of ARGO is provided by Defra and other
37. This memorandum sets out Defra's considerable
interest, investment and reliance on marine science. Key summary
points made in this paper include:
That we have many significant
and wide-ranging international, European and national policy responsibilities
within the marine area.
Our policies are evidence-based
and science plays a key part in providing that evidence.
We are a major supporter of
marine science spending approximately £26million annually.
In addition we draw on the evidence emerging from programmes supported
by other funders as a key part of our evidence.
Our science programmes encompass
both monitoring and applied and strategic research.
There are many future challenges
in the marine area and collaboration with other marine science
funders is a priority.
We look forward to contributing further to the
Science and Technology Committee's Inquiry as appropriate, and
the Committee's Recommendations.
LIST OF MARINE POLICY INSTRUMENTS OF INTEREST
TO DEFRA AND/OR OTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS (Refer to Appendix
1 for a list of acronyms)
IMO Ballast Waters
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change/Global Climate Observing System (UNFCCC/GCOS)
Safety Of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
The London Convention
|Shellfish Waters Directive|
Shellfish Harvesting Directive
Bathing Waters Directive
Water Framework Directive
European Marine Strategy and proposed Directive
European Maritime Green Paper and proposed Maritime Strategy
Dangerous Substances Directive and Titanium Dioxide Directive
Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
Common Fisheries Policy
|Conservation of Seals Act|
Countryside and Rights of Way Act
Environment Act 1995
Control of Pollution Act
Coast Protection Act
Wildlife and Countryside Act
Proposed Marine Bill
DEFRA'S MARINE SCIENCE PROGRAMME
| Programme Title||Summary of programme scope
||Indicative budget 2006-07
| Sustainable Marine Fisheries R&D
||Impact of fishing on the marine ecosystem and appropriate mitigating measures. Environmental variability and climate change affects on fisheries productivity. Modelling tools to support strategic and tactical fisheries management decisions.
|Fish and Shellfish Stock Assessment, Monitoring and Management Advice
||Monitoring programmes to assess the status of commercially important stocks for fisheries management. Joint research with the industry on commercial fish catch rates and developing more selective and environmentally friendly fishing methods.
|Sustainable Marine Environment R&D
||Research potential impacts of human activities on the marine environment, provide understanding of ecosystem functioning and develop tools and techniques to achieve better marine and coastal management.
|Marine Monitoring and Management Advice
||Provision of scientific evidence (monitoring, assessment) and advice relating to environmental protection, including meeting OSPAR and licensing requirements.
|Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management R&D
||Studies of coastal sediment processes for morphological prediction, beach management and design of coastal management structures, including economic, social and environmental impacts (part of the ongoing Joint Defra and Environment Agency R&D programme on Flood and Coastal Erosion risk).
|Estuary Flood Risk Management R&D||Studies of estuary morphology, sediment movement, economic, social and environmental impacts (part of the ongoing Joint Defra and Environment Agency R&D programme on Flood and Coastal Erosion risk management).
|Research on marine biodiversity and habitats to underpin marine nature conservation policy development, including the Marine Bill, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
|Climate||Long-term measurements of sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity for climate models, including; Projections of sea-level rise, ocean heat uptake, thermohaline circulation and sea ice coverage; Producing a risk assessment of rapid thermohaline circulation change; Work on observations of sea surface temperature; Modelling ocean biogeochemistry and its impact on the global carbon cycle.
|Developing operational models to forecast failures of faecal indicator organism limits in designated European Bathing Waters.|
Impacts of Intermittent discharges on microbial quality of shellfish flesh.
Testing of Cost-effectiveness Methodology in Coastal and Transitional Waters.
A New Analysis of Marine-Related Activities in the UK Economy
with Supporting Science and Technology. D Pugh and L Skinner.
IACMST Information Document No 10, August 2002. Back
Safeguarding our Seas Report. 2002. Back
Charting Progress An Integrated Assessment of the State of the
UK Seas. 2005. Back
Marine Bill Back
Defra's Research Projects Back
MCCIP UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership Back
Defra's Evidence and Innovation needs: Sustainable marine environment Back
Sustainable Marine Fisheries Statements of Need Back
UKMMAS http://www.defra.gov.uk/Environment/water/marine/uk/science/monitoring.htm Back
MAPC Reference paper 3.8 "Delivering the UK MMAS resource
requirements". November 2006. Back
MDIP http://www.oceannet.org/MDIP/ Back
GMES http://www.GMES.INFO/ Back
MariFish ERA-NET website http://www.marifish.net/ Back
CRUE ERA-NET website http://www.crue-eranet.net/ Back
Marine Protected Areas for Management of Temperate North Atlantic
Fisheries. C Sweeting and N Polunin, University of Newcastle Upon
http://www.argo.net/ ARGO website. Back