Research & Policy

We carry out primary research into the impact of major industrial projects, including capital and aggregate dredging, on benthic biological and fisheries resources. Our staff have international experience in marine science provide advice to clients on appropriate cost-effective mitigation measures to minimise impact on the marine environment. The results of our work are generally published in the international literature and are also available to download from our website.

MESL is regularly invited to work on major collaborative projects with organisations including government advisors, conservation departments and NERC laboratories. Much of our research has become interdisciplinary combining expertise from a number of different fields in order to better understand the marine environment as a whole.

MESL’s recent research work has included:

  • MESL were recently commissioned by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to deliver a series of Conceptual Ecological Models (CEMs) modelling shallow sublittoral mud, mixed sediment, coarse sediment, sand and sublittoral rock habitats to inform indicator selection
  • MESL recently completed a project titled ‘Defining the Components of Marine Ecosystems Critical to Ecosystem Service Generation’, commissioned by the JNCC. The project aimed to define the marine ecosystem components that influence or generate ecosystem service delivery, identify which components are deemed critical in the delivery process, gather spatial data regarding ecosystem components, and map the potential for delivery of selected ecosystem services in the UK marine environment. 
  • A series of sensivity assessments for sutidal rocky habitats on behalf of JNCC.Following a detailed literature review and a pragmatic iterative approach, characterising species from rocky habitats in the UK were placed in to ecological groups based upon their habitat preferences and biological traits. The sensitivity assessments themselves involved the examination of representative species in relation to pre-defined biological, chemical and physical anthropogenic pressures. 
  • Collaborative Regional Environmental Characterisation (REC) projects funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in the Eastern English Channel, Outer Thames, South Coast, Outer Humber and East Coast; working with BGS, Cefas, Wessex Archaeology, Birmingham University, Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee, Envision and Gardline Environmental
  • Impacts of aggregate extraction on adjacent Sabellaria spinulosa aggregations and other benthic fauna
  • Meeting the MPA Network Principle of Viability: Feature specific recommendations for species and habitats of conservation importance
  • A review of the guidelines for the conduct of benthic studies at aggregate extraction sites in partnership with Cefas
  • Automated mapping of marine habitats from marine sonar and bathymetric data in collaboration with the University of Bristol


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