1. Undertake flatfish, sediment and water sampling in the Clyde and Solway in support of the Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (OSPAR and MSFD D8).
2. Undertake fish sample preparation for subsequent eco-toxicological analyses (biological effects).
3. Undertake survey of seabed litter and sea-surface litter in the Firth of Clyde and Solway Firth (MSFD D10).
4. Undertake fish, shellfish, water and sediment sampling in support of the microplastics ROAME (ST014).
Scientific gear will be loaded on to the Sir John Murray in Troon on 08 November. Scientific crew will board the vessel and sail on Monday 11 November after all relevant safety drills have been completed.
Sediment sampling will be carried out in three water bodies in the Firth of Clyde and one in the Solway Firth. At each water body, there are five or six locations for sampling. At each location two surface (0-2 cm) sediment samples will be collected by Day grab, one for contaminant analysis and one for microplastic analysis.
Water sampling will take place at each of the six fishing sites before fishing has commenced. The ship's sea water pump will be used to collect the water samples. At the first two stations, Nisken bottle water sampling will be taken in addition for data comparison. Water samples will be taken for nutrients and salinity. It is important that nutrient samples are not contaminated with fish and, therefore, require separate freezer (MSS will provide freezer). A single ten litre water sample will also be taken from the inner firth for RGU.
Flatfish (dab, plaice or flounder) will be collected for determination of disease status, contaminant concentrations and contaminant-induced biological effects from the Solway, Bowling, Holy Loch, Hunterston, Garroch Head and Pladda fishing stations. Fish sample preparation for subsequent analysis will also take place on board. In addition, extra samples will be taken for preparation of EROD laboratory reference material. Bycatch (Nephrops, crabs, whiting and haddock) from the fishing trawls will be sampled adventitiously for determination of microplastics in gill and stomach contents. Benthic macrolitter collected during trawling will also be identified, quantified and recorded.
The catamaran neuston net will be towed at five knots in order to survey and sample sea-surface litter from various locations. Priority areas for sampling include Loch Long and the Solway. If time allows, microplastic analysis may be carried out on board.
Hilary Anderson (Marine Scotland Aberdeen Marine Laboratory)