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Seals & whales in an industrialised world

The Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews has been awarded £381,000 by the Government’s Public Sector Research Exploitation (PSRE) initiative to develop new commercial applications for its ground-breaking studies of marine mammals.

The SMRU team will provide scientific services to the marine, gas and oil industries, as well as data collection for NATO. This involves the development of risk management procedures for activities in the marine environment that could affect whales, dolphins and seals. SMRU also produces instruments that track marine mammals and that could be used in alternative applications.

The grant is one of a £25 million package announced by Science and Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury.

Welcoming the grant, Professor Ian Boyd, Director of SMRU said, “This funding provides us with an opportunity to find broader applications for the kinds of methods and technologies we have been developing in our research. Studying marine mammals is difficult because they occupy a remote, hostile world which is very difficult to observe. SMRU has developed methods to observe marine mammals and to assess their distribution and abundance. These methods, and the data we collect, are of increasing interest to industries that use the marine environment or exploit marine resources. We want to be able to provide these industries with the information and methods they need to use the marine environment in a sustainable way.”

Lord Sainsbury said, “The cutting edge research carried out by public sector research institutes need to be financed to enable them to bring their products and services to market. Without Government funding these ideas might never become a reality. It is essential for the benefit of the UK economy and our world- leading standing in science and innovation that we support the commercial development of scientific knowledge and services. ”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Public Sector Research Exploitation fund was set up four years ago, and the first round of funding of £10m was allocated in October 2001. The second round of funding of £15m was announced in January 2004. Bids for this third round with £25m in funding were invited from July to November 2005. For more information on the projects receiving third round PSRE funding contact the DTI press office 020 7251 5954.

ISSUED BY BEATTIE MEDIA On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/smrujan2006 View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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