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News Article | April 17, 2017

Nerve gas is back. Images of the victims and reports from doctors on the scene of yesterday’s Syrian government air strike on the rebel-held northern town of Khan Sheikhoun suggest the weapon used was the nerve agent, sarin. At least 70 men, women and children died and hundreds were injured. The timing of the attack seems startling, just a day ahead of today’s meeting in Brussels at which 70 countries are meant to discuss funding the reconstruction of Syria, and a week after senior US officials disavowed previous US calls to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. It may have been aimed at sowing discord among Western allies, or demonstrating the regime’s defiance. But it could also just be a continuation of war as usual for the Assad regime, which has been increasingly using chemical attacks to terrorise civilians for the past several months, even though in 2013 it signed the international treaty banning chemical weapons and agreed to let its chemical stockpile be destroyed. It is not yet certain what chemical was involved in the attack, cautions chemical weapons expert Jean-Pascal Zanders. But doctors from the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS) who are in the area say victims exhibited “constricted (or ‘pinpoint’) pupils, foaming at the mouth, and the loss of consciousness, slow heart rate, slow breathing, vomiting, muscles spasms and other neurological symptoms consistent with nerve agents”. “The symptoms described are consistent with exposure to sarin or some other organophosphorus chemical,” says Ralf Trapp, a consultant formerly with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). “As some of the victims have been moved to Turkey, it may be possible to acquire biomedical samples from them to identify telltale chemical compounds formed by sarin reacting with molecules in the blood.” Russia, the Syrian government’s main ally, claims the incident in Khan Sheikhoun happened when conventional air strikes hit a rebel-held cache or factory for chemical weapons. There are reasons to doubt this. For one thing, sarin is unstable, and the Assad regime chose to stockpile its precursor chemical, which would be mixed with another chemical just before use to produce sarin. Any rebel-made agent would probably be handled similarly. Hitting a cache of this would release little sarin. Moreover, if Syrian air strikes released the agent by accidentally hitting an enemy cache, they were improbably lucky, as they managed to do the same thing at three separate locations in the area within 24 hours: SAMS reports two attacks on nearby villages the previous day that produced fewer casualties but with similar symptoms. And a Syrian government attack on a town near Palmyra last December also produced victims displaying symptoms of sarin. There was little international response, partly because “we cannot confirm the chemical used unless inspectors can take samples under proper conditions”, says Zanders. Assad seems unlikely to allow such access again. In 2013 the Syrian government launched a major attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, killing 1400. Inspectors from the OPCW, which enforces the treaty banning chemical weapons, were able to examine the attack site and confirm the use of sarin. As a result of that, a deal among world powers, including Russia, forced the Assad government to sign the treaty and declare its stockpile for destruction. The OPCW has confirmed that 94 per cent of what Assad declared was destroyed. But like UN weapons inspectors in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf war, the OPCW could never quite verify that everything was gone – and like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before him, Assad has not been cooperating with their efforts to do so, says Zanders. And Assad has never lost his taste for chemicals. In 2014 he was already dropping barrel bombs of chlorine on civilian areas. As chlorine is used to purify water, it is not banned under the chemical weapons treaty, although its use as a weapon is. In February the UK-based Human Rights Watch reported that chlorine attacks had increased. But chlorine does not produce the telltale pinpoint pupils and other symptoms of sarin seen in Syria this week.

News Article | May 23, 2017

LEADING figures from the aquaculture industry will congregate in Stirling next month to discuss innovations in production methods, fish health and welfare, breeding and genetics and advances in feed technology. The inaugural Aquaculture UK conference, to be held at Stirling University from June 14-15, will feature talks from salmon farmers, shellfish growers, pioneering geneticists, fish vets, feed experts, and regulators. Marine Harvest’s John Richmond will offer advice on the design and building of large scale RAS systems, Adam Hughes of SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science) will explain the merits of IMTA, Nicki Holmyard will explore mollusc farming methods, and Stirling’s Andrew Davie will investigate the diversification of farmed species in the UK. Hamish Rodger from the Fish Vet Group will address the challenge of new and emerging finfish disease, while Grant Stentiford of the government body Cefas will look at shellfish health. Feed company Cargill’s Ian Carr will highlight innovations in health feeds, IFFO’s Neil Auchterlonie will tackle the continuing importance of marine ingredients, and Stirling’s Matthew Sprague will report on developments in salmon and trout nutrition. Cutting edge science from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Norway’s Avaforsk Genetics Centre and Xelect in St Andrews will give delegates up to date insights into new breeding technologies in aquaculture. At the end of day one, Gorjan Nikolik of Rabobank will deliver a finance perspective, and there will be a presentation from Evonik on sea lice treatments. Training and education providers meet on the second day to consider what the industry needs in terms of skills and experience, with presentations from Pisces’ Martyn Haines, Lantra, NAFC Marine Centre, Argyll College, and the universities of St Andrews and Harper Adams. Swansea University and Aberdeen will also be represented, in a special session on networking and knowledge exchange, and four breakout sessions will give participants a chance to consider the long-term growth of the industry. Kicking off the two-day event is keynote speaker Stewart Graham, Gael Force Group managing director and co-chair of the new Industry Leadership Group. And Wednesday evening will see the launch of the Scottish Marine Aquaculture Awards during the conference dinner, all in the Stirling Court Hotel.

News Article | October 3, 2016

Bacteria and archaea could be used to monitor stored carbon dioxide (CO2) and convert it into useful products, such as ethanol and acetate, say researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and the University of Oslo. In an Opinion published October 3, in Trends in Biotechnology, they discuss how new bioinformatics tools would enable researchers to read shifts in microbial community genetics—making it possible to, for example, detect potential CO2 leaks—and how such analyses could contribute to making large-scale capture and storage of CO2 feasible.

Oban, Scotland, 28-Oct-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — A developing form of aquaculture that sees seaweed and filter-feeding shellfish grown next to traditional fish farms can help deliver greater productivity and reduce environmental impact, say a research group led by SAMS researchers. The European-based researchers involved in the four-year IDREEM project, which ended this month, believe Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) could potentially address a number of challenges in the flat-lining European aquaculture industry. Whereas traditional aquaculture/mariculture practice typically sees different types of organisms grown separately, IMTA is a concept where different species are grown together in such a way that the invertebrates and/or plants can recycle the nutrients that are lost from the culture of the other species. “The whole idea of IDREEM was to put the industry at the centre of the project,” said project co-ordinator Dr Adam Hughes (pictured), head of aquaculture at SAMS. “It wasn’t about just research, but rather about mapping and benchmarking industry as it developed different IMTA production systems in Europe. “After four years of hands-on practical experience, the project has achieved a better understanding for aquaculture producers. Research and has shown that, even though the conditions are not yet fully in place in Europe for the wide scale adoption of IMTA, there is a growing commercial interest, consumer demand, and an economic and environment case for the adoption of IMTA, as well as clear policy drivers for its future development.” The work carried out by 15 partners across Europe has gone a long way to develop IMTA into a practical proposition for European aquaculture. Through the life of the project seven different fin-fish producers have IMTA operations in place, and the first IMTA products have been brought to market and sold. However, several barriers still hamper the full commercial uptake of IMTA. Dr Hughes said: “We spent a lot of time trying to understand the regulatory framework for the development of IMTA. There is a policy driver for IMTA in national and European policy but there seems to be a gap between the policy and the regulation. For some countries the process of getting a licence for IMTA can be smooth and for others it can take several years.” Among the findings from the project was a need to develop a market for aquaculture seaweed in Europe, as seaweed is a crucial component of most IMTA systems. For seaweeds to make a significant contribution to nutrient reduction they need to be grown in larger volumes than has been practised to date. The findings from IDREEM are detaileded in the final project publication “Beyond Monoculture – Developing Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture in Europe”, which was released on the occasion of the IMTA session at the recent Aquaculture Europe 2016 in Edinburgh. BBC Scotland’s Landward produced a feature on IMTA following a visit with Dr Hughes to the IMTA site on Loch Fyne, Argyll, run by the Scottish Salmon Company, a commercial partner in the IDREEM project. It can be viewed here on BBC iPlayer until November 25. About IDREEM IDREEM (Increasing Industrial Resource Efficiency in European Mariculture) is a European research project launched in 2012 to protect the long-term sustainability of European aquaculture by developing and demonstrating a new innovative production technology, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture or IMTA. The €5.7 million project is coordinated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and delivered in collaboration with fourteen industrial and research partners from across Europe. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 308571.

Porter M.,SAMS | Inall M.E.,SAMS | Green J.A.M.,Bangor University | Simpson J.H.,Bangor University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Marine Systems | Year: 2016

During the summer of 2012, 20 surface drifters drogued at 50 m depth were deployed on the continental slope to the north of the Bay of Biscay. Initially after release the drifters all crossed the slope, with 14 continuing equatorward, parallel to the slope following an absolute dynamic topography feature and 6 returning to the slope, in an eddy, visible in chlorophyll-a maps. Lagrangian statistics show an anisotropic flow field that becomes less tied to the absolute dynamic topography and increasingly dominated by diffusion and eddy processes. A weaker tie to the absolute dynamic topography allowed for total of 8 of the drifters crossed from the deep water onto the shelf, showing pathways for flow across the slope. A combination of drifter trajectories, absolute dynamic topography and chlorophyll-a concentration maps has been used to show that small anticyclonic eddies, tied to the complex slope topography provide a mechanism for on shelf transport. During the summer, the presence of these eddies can be seen in surface chlorophyll-a maps. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Alongside three professional divers from the NERC National Facility for Scientific Diving, hosted by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a team took to the Eastern Med and delved to depths of up to 55 metres, which are challenging levels to reach because of physiological limitations including the requirement for decompression stops. The team, led by Oceanlab's Professor Frithjof Kuepper and Dr Martin Sayer, from the NERC National Facility for Scientific Diving in Oban, alongside Aberdeen PhD Student Vivian Louizidou, explored communities of maerl – coralline red algae and associated organisms. The biodiversity and ecology of such communities in the Eastern Mediterranean has rarely been explored and, besides exploring their native animal and algal inhabitants, the surveys revealed the presence of a number of alien invasive species, including fireworms, the red seaweed Womersleyella and three Caulerpa species (several of which are considered among the worst invaders of the Mediterranean). While these invaders were previously known to impact shallow-water communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, the surveys conducted by the team suggest that their impacts are also likely profound in the low-light and colder-water, deeper communities. This could have a huge impact on the seabed community as they can displace native species, which could potentially lead to major changes in ecosystem functioning and loss of local biodiversity. Professor Kuepper said: "Observing these communities is a quite a challenge, because the depth of the water limits your working time and can make clear thinking difficult. "I am delighted that not only have we accessed these communities but we have also generated substantial findings from our expedition which will allow us to not only understand what lives there, but also how they function and to what extent they might be threatened by human activities." The work was conducted at such depths that it required careful planning with larger than usual air cylinders, independent bail-out cylinders and extra air staged for the decompression stops. All diving was conducted using a bottom-reel to ensure that the divers always found their way back to the decompression lines. Dr Martin Sayer said: "It was rewarding to make use of the knowledge and experience of our team to provide a platform for the scientific exploration of parts of the sea that are poorly understood."

News Article | December 19, 2016

A seven-year-old Syrian girl who has 326,000 Twitter followers has been safely evacuated from the city of Aleppo, the Syrian American Medical Society confirmed on Monday. Bana Alabed and her family are among many Syrian civilians, including at least 2,700 children, who were allowed to leave rebel-held zones in northern Syria over the weekend. Alabed, who was pictured in a tweet posted by SAMS president Ahmad Tarakji, attracted worldwide attention by tweeting about her life in war-torn Aleppo, including the story of her house being destroyed. Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, refused to acknowledge that the tweets were genuine, telling journalists in October that Bana's Twitter presence was promoted by "terrorists or their supporters." Last week in series of tweets, Bana and her mother reached out to First Lady Michelle Obama in a video pleading for help and expressed their fear that they might be captured or killed imminently. The family is now safe. Evacuations from Aleppo began Thursday but broke down a day later when convoys of fleeing civilians came under fire, then resumed Sunday. Alabed's mother, Fatemah, told reporters the family had been held "like hostages" for 24 hours on buses without food or water before leaving the city Sunday night, according to the BBC.

Adams T.P.,SAMS | Miller R.G.,SAMS | Aleynik D.,SAMS | Burrows M.T.,SAMS
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2014

Summary: Offshore renewable energy provides an increasing component of our electricity supply. We have limited understanding of the potential environmental impacts of these developments, particularly in the move to larger scales. Surfaces provided by devices offer novel habitat to marine organisms, which may allow species to spread to new areas. We used coupled biological and hydrodynamic models to investigate the spread of intertidal marine organisms with pelagic larvae (such as barnacles or gastropods) in the region around south-western Scotland. We assessed the impact of novel habitat on dispersal and its role in allowing transgression of physical barriers. Model renewable energy device sites provided habitat for pelagic larval particles that would otherwise have been lost offshore. They also provided a source of larvae for existing coastal sites. Many offshore devices fulfilled source and destination (or intermediate connection) roles, creating new dispersal pathways, and allowing previously impossible northward dispersal from the Northern Irish coast to Scotland. Synthesis and applications. New habitat close to biogeographical barriers has implications for existing species' distributions and genetic population structure. It also affects the spread of non-native species and 'climate migrants'. Monitoring these sites for the presence of such species will be important in determining the future ecology of coastal habitat and in maintaining economic aquaculture and marina operations. Future model studies should focus on particular species of importance, taking account of their biology and current distribution. © 2013 British Ecological Society.

News Article | October 28, 2016

GRENOBLE, France--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regulatory News: GROUPE SAMSE (Paris:SAMS) : PREMIER TRIMESTRE               2016           2015         % de variationà périmètrecourant                                               ACTIVITE NEGOCE         212 242           208 363         1,86       ACTIVITE BRICOLAGE         56 820           53 614         5,98       TOTAL DU GROUPE         269 062           261 977         2,70                                         DEUXIEME TRIMESTRE                    

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