Scientists from Hariot-Watt University who are working on an international project looking at the settlement of marine organisms in the North Sea have asked Fishing News readers working in the vicinity of the Little Halibut Bank to keep a look-out for yellow surface marker buoys.

These will be flashing in bursts of four, every 20 seconds, with a nominal range of 2nm. The buoys do not have AIS/racon or similar fitted.

Deployed on 6 August, the buoys mark two sets of suspended plates attached to single clump weights. They’ll be left in the water for three months before recovery and analysis by the team.

Organisms that have settled on the plates will be analysed using genetic techniques to help understand how different sites across the North Sea act as sources and sinks for the larvae of marine biofouling species. The work is part of the INfluence of Structures In The Ecosystem (INSITE) programme and Connectivity of Hard Substrate Assemblages in the North Sea (CHASANS) project.

Conor Gilmour, from Heriot-Watt’s Orkney campus, told FN: “The work is intended to collect samples of marine fouling species such as barnacles and anemones, which gives us information about how the currents distribute these creatures.

“Man-made structures act as artificial reefs – information about the species on these structures will tell us about the sort of commercial fish that may use them as nursery areas. It will ultimately feed into decisions about what to do with North Sea infrastructure at the end of its life – i.e. how much is removed or left in order to maximise biodiversity, ecosystem health and therefore fish.”

Similar gear has been deployed at two other sites, one within the bounds of Moray East wind farm, and the other just outside the 500m zone at the Tiffany platform, with the co- ordinates available via Kingfisher.

Fishermen looking for more information can contact Professor Jo Porter at:


This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.50 here

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