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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.


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

A Review of Hazardous Substances in the Scottish Marine Environment: Update 2021

Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 12 No 11

This review is an update of the review undertaken in 2010 to identify what data is currently held for the Scottish marine environment on hazardous substances included on OSPAR and WFD lists and identify any gaps in information that may require further monitoring or method development.

Webster, L. and Lacaze, J-P. 2021. A Review of Hazardous Substances in the Scottish Marine Environment: Update 2021. Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 12 No 11, 37pp. DOI: 10.7489/12383-1

Data and Resources

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Temporal Coverage
2011-01-01 to 2021-08-17
UK Open Government Licence (OGL)
Marine Scotland
Data Dictionary

The UK Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (CSEMP) is operated so as to ensure a uniform monitoring programme across the United Kingdom providing the necessary data to fulfil the UK’s obligations under the OSPAR Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP) and for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)/UK Marine Strategy (MS).

OSPAR and MSFD/UK MS monitoring still focuses on the legacy contaminants and there has been no changes to contaminant monitoring requirements since the 2010 MSS review. A considerable amount of data is available for the legacy OSPAR Coordinated Environment Monitoring Programmes (CEMP) determinands (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the trace metals cadmium, mercury and lead) which are monitored annually in biota and sediment around Scotland. The legacy contaminant data was assessed recently as part of the Scottish Marine Assessment (SMA) 2020.

There are a number of national and international initiatives aimed at identifying Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) which should be considered for inclusion in future monitoring programmes.

The ICES Working Group on Marine Sediment (WGMS) and the Marine Chemistry Working Group (MCWG) identified nine contaminants/contaminant groups that should be given consideration for addition to the OSPAR List of Contaminants of Concern/ Priority Action. OSPAR’s Lists of Substances of Possible Concern and Priority Action has not changed for many years, but should be updated in 2022/23. The contaminant groups being considered by MCWG/WGMS are: dechloranes, alternative brominated flame retardants, phosphorous flame retardants, antifoulants, per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), benzotriazoles, siloxanes, anticorrosion agents and pharmaceuticals.

PFAS (including longer chain compounds) are still considered a priority, with PFOS the only PFAS to be currently included on the OSPAR pre-CEMP List, and also highlighted by OSPAR as a contaminant group that needs continued monitoring. The recent German specimen bank study focussing on the MCWG/WGMS CECs, highlighted PFAS and dechloranes as CECs to be considered for inclusion in monitoring programmes. In addition, the MSS 2010 hazardous substances review highlighted PFAS as the priority contaminant for method development and monitoring in Scotland.

The results from the screening of mussel samples for Phase 1 of the CONnECT project (CONtaminants of Emerging Concern and Threat in the marine environment) wide scope target and suspect screening initiative are now available, with further analysis being planned. It is hoped that the outcome of this project will inform the update of the OSPAR Lists of Contaminants of Concern/Priority Action. Contaminants detected in the Scottish mussels included methyl paraben (personal care product) and alkyl amines and quaternary alkylammonium surfactants. Neither contaminants have previously been highlighted by OSPAR or ICES as contaminants to be considered for inclusion in monitoring programmes.

A recent study on pharmaceutical contaminants in the Clyde and Forth, showed that these were present in marine waters, with concentrations highest for caffeine and paracetamol. A global initiative looking at pharmaceuticals identified the 25 worldwide areas with highest concentrations for pharmaceuticals, a site in the Clyde was number 25 on this list. Again across the globe highest concentrations were for caffeine and paracetamol. Although pharmaceuticals were not detected in Scottish mussels from the CONnECT project, they were detected in English mussel samples.

Contact Name
Marine Scotland
Contact Email
Public Access Level