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By sharing science we will strengthen management

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At the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) science plays a big part in all our work and access to high quality and up to date marine evidence is critical. Our two new NERC Knowledge Fellows, Dr Jacqui Tweddle and Dr Katherine Yates, talk about science and its role in marine management.

The marine environment is essential to human society, delivering vital “ecosystem services” or benefits, such as providing food for billions of people and producing around half of the atmosphere’s oxygen. However, humans are placing ever more pressure on our marine environment, with a rising intensity and diversity of activities, which all compete for space.

In light of the importance of the marine environment and the potential negative impacts humans can have on it, there is a pressing need for good management of our use of marine resources. The MMO is at the forefront of marine management in England.

Building our understanding through knowledge sharing

Science has an important role in helping to ensure marine management decisions are supported by the robust evidence and that management considers what is called an ecosystems-based approach. This approach ensures that our marine policies, management and planning take into account all aspects of marine ecosystems, including human society.

To further support the use of science in management, we have recently started working with the MMO as Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) “Knowledge Exchange” Fellows. Together we will help communicate the vast amounts of information generated by scientific researchers to the MMO and contribute to meeting evidence needs for management decision making. By doing so, we will support the MMO in providing effective, efficient, targeted management based on the most up to date knowledge.

As Knowledge Exchange Fellows we are, unsurprisingly, engaged in exchanging knowledge – this a two way process, both sharing scientific knowledge with the MMO, but also learning and sharing the needs and wants of the MMO with the researcher community. Figuring out how best for the two communities to work together is also going to be an important output of our project, as MMO wishes to engage more widely with academic,  improve and multiply collaborations, and maximise the utility of scientific research for informing management decision making processes.

Better relationships will create more robust management

This is an exciting opportunity for us, for the MMO and for academia in general. It the first time the MMO has collaborated with NERC Fellows, and there is great scope for us to support management evidence needs and facilitate access to new expertise and research for the MMO. We hope that we can contribute to long term improvements in the interaction between academia and management. We are keen to gain an in-depth understanding of the needs of a policy implementation and regulatory government body and we are enthused by the opportunity to facilitate the uptake of research into real-world marine management.

Dr Jacqui Tweddle is a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, and is an oceanographer with expertise in marine spatial planning.



Dr Katherine Yates is a lecturer at University of Salford specialising in marine conservation planning and spatial management.



Those interested in the work of Katherine and Jacqui can contact them at and You can follow Katherine and Jacqui on Twitter at @Yates_KL and @JFTweddle.

Both Jacqui and Katherine are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellows focus on accelerating and amplifying impact of NERC science. They do this through a number of different mechanisms, from NERC-funded research to working with business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or, as in this case, government bodies.

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