The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) has welcomed the 15-year UK strategy to deliver world-class marine science, jointly published on 3 February 2010 by the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The UK Marine Science Strategy covers three key areas: understanding how marine ecosystems function; responding to climate change and its interaction with the marine environment; and sustaining and increasing ecosystem benefits. It will inform future decisions on sustainable management of the oceans, food and energy security, and understanding the role the oceans play in climate change.
The strategy has been developed by the Marine Science Coordination Committee following wide consultation with marine science stakeholders. The committee was formed by the Government following the publication in 2008 of the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee report, `Investigating the Oceans' which called for improved coordination of marine science efforts in the UK. NOCS Director, Professor Ed Hill, gave evidence to the Select Committee in 2007 and NOCS later hosted a fact-finding visit by committee members.
Launching the strategy, UK Marine Science Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: "Our seas and oceans are vital to our very existence...Understanding how human activities affect the seas and oceans, and how the changes taking place will affect us, is key to making critical policy decisions to enable the marine environment to be managed sustainably. The UK Marine Science Strategy will help to ensure we have the evidence we need to support decisions which will affect generations to come."
Director of NOCS, Professor Ed Hill spoke alongside the minister at the launch, setting out some of the achievements, challenges and opportunities for marine science.
Welcoming the strategy, Professor Hill, said: "The launch of the UK Marine Science strategy is a hugely significant milestone. The marine science community has long called for such a national strategy to help focus the whole UK science community's efforts on addressing the biggest and most relevant science challenges of our age; increasing our influence internationally and in Europe; aligning science priorities across multiple organisations; and sustaining programmes of long-term observing and monitoring in the oceans and the seas, and raising the public awareness of the importance of the oceans to our national wealth and wellbeing. The sponsorship of the strategy by the ten ministers across the UK Government and Devolved Administrations demonstrates the growing visibility and importance of our oceans and seas in the development of public policy for the sound management of the marine environment and the commitment to tackle these issues in a more coordinated way across Government."
The publication of the UK Marine Science Strategy comes in the same week that plans for a new, truly national centre for oceanographic science, The National Oceanography Centre, were unveiled. Professor Hill said: "The announcement this week by the Natural Environment Research Council of the formation of the new National Oceanography Centre, bringing together the NERC-managed parts of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in Liverpool, and spanning science from the coast to deep sea, is very much in line with the spirit of the UK Marine Science Strategy. The new centre will provide a framework for the NERC marine science community in developing more effective approaches to prioritisation, coordination and delivery of marine science."
The UK Marine Science Strategy can be obtained by following the www.defra.gov.uk/environment/marine/documents/science/mscc/mscc-strategy.pdf