University of St Andrews
Sea Mammal Research Unit
SMRU > About SMRU > Background Information

Background Information

SMRU is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Collaborative Centre that provides the UK’s main science capability in the field of marine mammal biology. NERC strategic science funding supports a small proportion of SMRU’s overall research activities and the resources contributed by NERC mainly fund research on seals, thus reflecting the strategic need to support the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. However, SMRU also focuses >50% of its research effort on cetaceans. In agreement with NERC, SMRU raises the remainder of the funding to support its strategic research programme from other sources, including the EU, Defra, Scottish Government, MoD, DBERR and from an income stream generated as a result of the development and supply of instrumentation to the rest of the science community.

SMRU’s current strategic science priorities include: evaluating the status of marine mammal populations; investigating the importance of marine mammals as components of marine ecosystems; determining the dynamics of marine mammal populations; studying marine mammal social structure and communication; providing the technological basis for observing free-ranging marine mammals and their environment.

Strategic context
SMRU’s activities address the requirements for information about marine mammals identified in the UK and Scottish Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Strategies and, most importantly, in the new Strategy for Scotland’s Coast and Inshore Waters. It is also relevant to the Joint UK Response to the Review of Marine Nature Conservation, the EU Marine Strategy and the UK Small Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy. In addition to these inputs to government, SMRU has an important near-market role providing advice to marine industry and providing services to the science community, mainly through instrument design and manufacture and software development. SMRU also takes advantage of the iconic status of marine mammals to improve public knowledge about the marine environment.



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