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St Andrews leads new sea science alliance

Ten of the country’s leading research institutions have joined forces to establish the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).

MASTS will aim to place Scotland at the leading edge if international marine research by coordinating the work of the country’s 700 marine research staff and a £74 million combined budget.

The Scottish Funding Council is backing the partnership with £17.4 million of additional investment.

The pooling arrangement will capitalise on Scotland’s existing advantages – our seas are among the most biologically productive in the world, at the same time we have 25 per cent of Europe’s total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in tidal power.

Professor Ian Boyd, Chairman of MASTS said:

“MASTS will build a new approach to ensuring that marine science in Scotland can remain internationally competitive and, in the longer term, the ambition is to place Scotland in the leading position globally.

“It will provide the academic platform and knowledge for marine governance and commerce.

“Scotland’s seas are five times the size of its land area and have enormous untapped potential but face a range of current and future threats.

“People have to develop ways to exploit the wealth and potential of the oceans in sustainable ways. MASTS will contribute to achieving this potential through scientific innovation mixed with enterprise.

“Given the importance of the oceans to Scotland as a driver of climate change and a source of renewable energy and food, it will give Scotland a seat at the international table amongst leading maritime nations.”

Mark Batho, Chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council said:

“Scotland’s coastline and seas are of immense importance to the country’s wealth and culture. As a marine nation, marine science has been a natural part of Scotland’s contribution to modern science. The Council is pleased to support this science community to build on its success with a strong research pool.”

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment added:

“Our new Marine Bill provides the perfect platform to build on Scotland’s already outstanding reputation for marine science.  Scotland’s prospects of becoming a global leader in future years will be greatly strengthened by the launch of MASTS, supported by over £17 million of new investment from the Scottish Funding Council.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

MASTS member institutions are University of St Andrews, University of Aberdeen, Marine Scotland (Science), University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, University Marine Biological Station Millport, Edinburgh Napier University, Scottish Association for Marine Science (UHI), University of Stirling, and University of Strathclyde.

The formation of MASTS will create eight new professorships and 13 lectureships/readerships.

A graduate academy will be at the core of MASTS offering advanced postgraduate training in marine sciences to attract and retain talented young scientists.

The work of MASTS will cover nine distinct themes: biodiversity and ecosystem function, coastal zone, marine predators, sustainable mariculture, genomics, fisheries, physical oceanography, modelling, and platforms and sensors.

ENDS

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews Contact Emma Shea, Communications Manager on 01334 462167 or email es12@st-andrews.ac.uk

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