Memorandum from the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
INVESTIGATING THE OCEANS: UPDATE ON PLANS
FOR THE NEW MARINE SCIENCE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
1. The HoC S&T Committee Report "Investigating
the Oceans" was published on 16 October 2007, and the Government
response was submitted on 19 December 2007. Because of time constraints,
the Response indicated that it had not been possible to reach
detailed agreement on all aspects of the new committee, the Marine
Science Coordination Committee (MSCC). This paper provides a summary
of progress on the formation of the MSCC. It is based on the work
of a small Working Group, which brings together the major practitioners
of UK marine science management. The views of the Group are not
"official" at this stage but the paper will help the
MSCC to consider important issues relating to its:
Structure and membership.
Proposed implementation timetable.
2. Representatives of the main Departmental
funders of UK marine science met on 31 January to discuss issues
relating to the creation of MSCC, its reporting lines, terms of
reference and membership. (See Annex I for list of attendees.
DIUS could not be represented directly at this meeting, but has
contributed its views to Defra during the subsequent MSCC planning
3. To make progress it was agreed that a
small planning group would be formed with representatives from
Defra, FRS, NERC, CEFAS and Met Office (See Annex 2). This paper
summarises the Group's considerations to date on the key aspects
of MSCC's formation.
4. The Group is now in the final stages
of refining a paper which will be discussed by Departmental representatives
at a meeting/workshop on 15 May. Following this meeting Defra
proposes calling a first meeting of the MSCC to discuss the Planning
Group's recommendations for the new Committee. The issue of reporting
lines to Ministers will be resolved by Ministerial correspondence.
What are the main points emerging from the Planning
5. The Planning Group proposes that the
following encapsulates the broad scope and remit of the MSCC:
The MSCC will be charged with addressing four
developing a UK strategic view for
marine science and technology;
improving the links between science
improving marine science co-ordination,
including identifying and addressing cross-cutting issues; and
strengthening the UK's marine science
capacity and capabilities;
6. The MSCC's role is not to dictate Departmental
responsibilities for marine science. Rather its role is to act
on the four issues set out above and in doing so help the UK face
up to future marine policy and science challenges.
7. The MSCC will provide leadership in joining
up marine science across departments. The MSCC will also address
UK coordination with Europe and internationally.
8. The MSCC will develop and agree a plan
of action covering the next four to five years. The implementation
of this plan will be the subject of a review In year five, and
progress and other aspects will be included in an annual report
from the MSCC. In 2010 the role of MSCC will be reviewed in the
light of the new Marine Management Organisation, MMO.
9. The MSCC will be responsible for commissioning
the Marine Science Strategy. To help take this important action
forward the Planning Group has set up a small task group to commence
scoping out the UK marine science strategy and estimating likely
costs. The strategy will be published by summer/autumn 2009.
MSCC STRUCTURE AND
10. Figure 1 illustrates the proposed structure
for the Committee. It is suggested that members of the MSCC will
be at the director level, representing the following Departments/Agencies:
Environment Agency; and
11. It is proposed that the chairmanship
will rotate, possibly every 18 months, between the major funders
of marine scienceDefra, NERC (DIUS), and the Scottish Department.
The "chair elect" will act as a vice chair before assuming
the role of chair, to promote continuity.
12. The Committee will be supported by the
MSCC Support Group, composed of Departmental/Agency officials
who have direct science budget responsibilities. In addition to
the Departments represented on MSCC, the Support Group will include
13. The Support Group will report at least
annually to the MSCC, summarising progress and highlighting any
issues that need resolving.
The MSCC, and Support Group, will be supported
by a Secretariat.
Relationship with other groups
14. The relationship between MSCC and the
Marine Assessment Policy Committee (MAPC) has yet to be considered
in detail. One option is for MAPC to be merged with MSCC, and
the Marine Assessment and Reporting Group (MARG) to become a major
MSCC Working Group. The Marine Monitoring Organisation (MMO) will
have significant interests in marine science and may therefore
become a member of the MSCC.
15. A number of working groups will be established
to take forward specific pieces of work, commissioned by MSCC.
There will, for example, be a strategy working group, and others
covering work currently under IACMST, including an international
group. Working Groups will provide an important focus for wider
16. A small number of Independents will
join the MSCC. They will be chosen by open selection and will
serve for a fixed three year term, with possible extension for
one further term. They will have a non-executive role and provide
a challenge function. The same independents may also be asked
by the MSCC Support Group to participate in certain key tasks
and attend SG meetings. The strategy will be developed through
wide consultation with industry, learned societies and others.
17. The MSCC's business will need to be
adequately funded. It is proposed that an MOU, or similar agreement,
will be developed between the members of MSCC which will include
a commitment to contribute to a central budget, possibly based
on the relative sizes of marine science budgets. This will help
cover on-going costs for running the Secretariat and developing
the strategy which will be a major cost item.
These will be explained further by the SoS at
18. It is envisaged by the Planning Group
that the Marine Strategy, which will be a major deliverable of
the MSCC in the short to medium-term, will be owned and signed
off by all relevant Ministers.
19. The MSCC will in its normal course of
business report annually to all Ministers.
20. Where there are issues relating to failures
of coordination, or problems with the delivery of the Strategy,
the MSCC will be responsible for resolving issues in the first
instance. If this Is not possible the MSCC will propose solutions
or options which can be considered, at the ministerial level.
21. The Planning Group will meet with departmental
representatives on 15 May and through a workshop consider remaining
issues. Defra will invite MSCC members to a first meeting, probably
In June or July, to examine the Planning Group paper in detail,
confirm the MSCC structure etc., develop a forward plan of action,
and consider the shape and content of the Strategy.