1. To undertake flatfish and sediment sampling in the Clyde and Solway in support of the Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (OSPAR and MSFD).
2. To undertake sample preparation for subsequent ecotoxicological analyses.
3. To undertake survey of sea-surface litter in the Firth of Clyde and Solway Firth.
4. To take adventitious samples of fish and shellfish for microplastics
Scientific equipment was loaded onto Sir John Murray on 6 November, ahead of the survey. Scientific staff joined the ship on 10 November and sailed from Troon at 11:30 hours to collect five sediment grabs from the Firth of Clyde, Middle Offshore water body, which included the former sewage sludge disposal site at Garroch Head. The catamaran manta net was trialled in Largs Channel until crew and scientists were happy they could work it and the catamaran was deployed to sample floating debris from Cloch Point towards Greenock. The vessel was berthed in James Watt dock at 19:30 hours that evening. Sir John Murray departed Greenock at 07:30 hours on 11 November and proceeded to fish the Bowling site, where five beam trawls returned the required 50 flounder. The catamaran trawl was deployed to sample floating debris in the Clyde estuary, with three tows undertaken between Dumbarton and Erskine Bridge with three more tows undertaken between Dumbarton and Greenock. The vessel returned to Greenock where she berthed at 15:30 hours and all collected fish were worked-up. The vessel left James Watt dock at 07:30 hours the following morning and the catamaran trawl was towed as the vessel headed towards Cloch Point and then to the Holy Loch fishing site. Four bottom trawls were undertaken in order to obtain the 50 required dab, after which two catamaran tows were undertaken in Loch Long, before the vessel returned to Greenock and berthed at 19:00 hours. Sir John Murray sailed from Greenock at 07:30 hours on 13 November and undertook two catamaran sea surface tows in the Firth of Clyde between Cloch Point/Dunoon and Skelmorlie/Toward Point; a third tow was abandoned due to the sea state. Two catamaran tows were undertaken in the more sheltered waters of Loch Striven before the vessel moved in strengthening winds to collect the sediment grabs from Hunterston Channel. Poor weather prevented any fishing or further catamaran tows and the ship berthed in Troon at 16:45 hours. Poor weather on 14 November prevented any work being undertaken. The vessel sailed from Troon at 07:30 hours on 15 November and fished the Hunterston and Garroch Head sites. One tow returned sufficient plaice at Hunterston, although two tows at Garroch Head returned only 18 plaice. Time and weather constraints then necessitated the vessel making for the Solway, with one catamaran manta net tow being undertaken in the Middle Offshore water body en route. From first light on 16 November, the five Balcary Point sediment samples were collected and the Solway fishing site trawled. With a strong northerly wind forecast, the vessel then made passage back overnight to the Firth of Clyde, undertaking four manta net tows in the Solway en route and arriving back in Troon at 02:00 hours. On 17 November, the opportunity was taken to undertake five further manta net tows in Irvine Bay, Ayr Bay and the Firth of Clyde Middle Offshore water body. Sir John Murray berthed in Troon at 15:30 hours to complete the survey.
Craig D Robinson (Marine Scotland Aberdeen Marine Laboratory)
Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland Irish Sea and St. George's Channel