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Marine Scotland Science (MSS) undertakes a wide range of monitoring covering many aspects of the Scottish marine ecosystem.

Monitoring is undertaken in Scottish Inshore Waters, using networks of volunteers and automatic recording equipment, as well as in Scottish Offshore Waters, using the MSS research vessels MRV Alba na Mara and MRV Scotia.

Marine Scotland Science also participates national monitoring programmes, such as:

  • UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS)
  • UK Marine Environmental Change Network (MECN)
  • UK Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN)

This group provides published data from monitoring these activities. For many activities, there are national or international standards for how the monitoring is undertaken.

Data Extent


UK Open Government Licence (OGL)

Other Access

The information on this page (the dataset metadata) is also available in these formats.


via the DKAN API

Microplastics Scottish Marine Assessment 2020 [deprecated]

Dataset used for Scottish Marine Assessment 2020 - contains positional data and items per km squared sea surface. Also contains raw counts of microplastics per sample.
Please note: this data set has been expanded and re-published with more columns. It is available at:

Marine Scotland. 2020. Microplastics Scottish Marine Assessment 2020. DOI: 10.7489/12324-1

Data and Resources

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((2.197265625 57.164546360298, -4.5703125 54.346951891567, -7.646484375 55.706997849236, -15.029296875 57.021299406071, -15.1171875 58.244500350217, -5.537109375 60.439607562907, -1.93359375 61.631201784211, 2.28515625 61.210766463772))
Temporal Coverage
2013-04-01 to 2020-01-31
English (United Kingdom)
UK Open Government Licence (OGL)
Data Dictionary

Samples were collected using Marine Scotland Science protocols and SOPs. Sea surface water samples were collected with a 335 µm neuston net mounted on a catamaran swimmer body (Neuston Net acc. to David/Hempel Model 300) from January 2014 up to and including January 2020 using Marine Scotland Sciences’ research vessels MRVs Scotia and Alba na Mara and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency vessel the RV Sir John Murray. The primary purpose of these surveys is to collect water, sediment and fish samples for nutrient, chemical and biological effects monitoring. Piggybacking microplastic sampling on surveys with a different sampling purpose is the usual scenario, due to the expense of a dedicated survey and helps maximise the use of ship time. Towing times varied from 15 minutes to over 1 hour, depending on the available time and/or sea surface conditions. The average speed of the ship during towing was 5 knots (2.6 ms-1). Once towing was completed the net was rinsed into the cod end and the material in the cod end transferred to a sieve stack consisting of 5 mm and 125 µm aperture sieves and a base pan. The material was rinsed through the 5 mm sieve using fresh water. The material collected in the 125 µm sieve was examined and the microplastic particles collected and counted. Particular care was taken to check for microplastics adhering to larger material such as seaweed. The examination and picking of microplastics was carried out by two people, using a lighted magnifier, as a cross check that everything identified as plastic was collected. Potential microplastics were counted in categories – fibres, film, beads, nurdles, fragments, polystyrene and paint flakes. Although not included in this assessment material greater than 5 mm in its longest dimension was also collected and counted in the same categories. Post survey, a selection of microparticles were analysed by microscopy Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (microFTIR) to confirm that they were microplastics. Potential hotspots for microplastics were identified in the surveys.

Contact Name
Marine Scotland
Contact Email
Public Access Level