Who are the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) collaborators?
Nine individuals from six industry, research and conservation organisations make up the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) team. All bring unique expertise to the table and will contribute in a variety of ways to achieve the shared goal of working with Scottish fishermen to better understand the extent and impact of marine animal entanglements in our waters, and helping to develop sustainable mitigation strategies for the benefit of all. Here is a quick introduction to a few of our partners….
Ellie is co-ordinating the SEA research programme and will work closely with collaborators to lead the fisheries outreach and engagement components of this work. A Skye native with a strong family connection to the local fishing industry, Ellie has experience in working as a commercial diver, as well as in various marine and fisheries research, consultancy and community conservation roles. She is also a member of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) large whale disentanglement team, and has recently returned from the USA and Canada where she worked closely with fishermen, disentanglement teams and fisheries and conservation organisations currently affected by and working to reduce marine animal entanglements. She hopes that the alliance will provide a unique opportunity to learn from and work with local fishermen and other coastal community members to give them ownership of the entanglement issue, as well as the support they need to address this successfully. Her position is being hosted by the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS).
Andrew has led the SMASS team since 2009. As a veterinary pathologist he undertakes marine animal post mortem examinations and has oversight for SMASS’s data collection, management and reporting. He has expertise in the field of wildlife disease and is interested in the cumulative effects of disease, physiology and environmental stressors on wild animal populations. Andrew’s contribution to the alliance is through investigation into the type and distribution of injuries associated with marine animal entanglements, which will hopefully allow us to design better measures to reduce their impact. Andrew thinks SEA is a fantastic initiative, bringing researchers, conservationists and the fishing community together to understand and develop sensible and workable solutions to the problem of marine animal entanglements.
Sarah coordinates WDC’s global bycatch programme, with the aim of working with stakeholders to find ways to reduce bycatch and entanglements throughout the world. Sarah has an MSc in Fisheries Science from Aberdeen University, is a member of the International Whaling Commission Bycatch Expert Panel, has published on cetaceans and bycatch and was involved in the production of the ‘best practise guide to reducing marine animal entanglements in Scotland’. WDC helped to develop the current SEA project, have co-designed the questionnaire and will promote the project through their social media networks. WDC hopes the alliance will achieve better data to enable us to understand and reduce entanglements of whales and other marine species in Scottish waters.
Based in the Highlands, Noel has previously worked as a fisherman off the west coast of Scotland. He is an experienced member of BDMLR’s large whale disentanglement team and has attended numerous entanglement and stranding call-outs. He currently works as Living Seas Communities Officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust promoting marine wildlife and environmental engagement and awareness. Noel believes that partnerships like SEA between conservation groups, communities and industry offer the best potential for long term sustainability and successful outcomes for all.
Lauren is the Science and Policy Manager for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT),who are proud to be part of the SEA’s research. Entanglement is a global problem but with fishing and wildlife being so valuable to Scottish coastal communities, it is important for us to understand the impact it is having on the livelihoods of fishermen as well as the risk to marine animals. HWDT will focus on assessing the interaction between large whales and manmade items in the marine environment by analysing photographs of live animals to better understand the risk posed to our amazing marine life. If you have any photographs or sightings information that might be of use, HWDT would love to hear from you.
Entanglement in fishing gear is a worldwide issue affecting marine animals and fishers wherever the two overlap, and around the globe numerous programmes already exist to address this issue. Here in Scotland the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) was established in response to an increase in marine animal entanglement reports in our waters in recent years. Minimising the occurrence and negative impacts of these incidents to both fishermen and marine animals from an economic and welfare perspective is the goal of this research, and central to this will be engaging with local fishermen to ensure they benefit as much as possible from this work.
Over the coming months the SEA project co-ordinator will be travelling around the Scottish coast to meet and speak with fishermen to gather information about their own experiences and perceptions of marine animal entanglement, and offer opportunities for them to get involved in SEA research through interviews, workshops and training events. If you would be willing to meet with Ellie and contribute to this work, share your own experiences of entanglement, or would like to learn more about SEA, please contact her on:
The project partners realise that marine animals entanglement is a sensitive issue and guarantee that any information shared will be treated as strictly confidential.