University of St Andrews
Sea Mammal Research Unit
SMRU > Research > Conservation


The need to conserve marine mammal population is written in to numerous national laws and international agreements, but also has to be balanced with the needs of human society.  Much of the work of SMRU is ultimately driven by conservation concerns that require us to understand how marine mammals behave and how their populations change with respect to human activities such as fishing, or energy production.


Many SMRU projects in the past and present are focused on measuring the impact of a specific human activity on marine mammal behaviour, physiology or distribution.  Quantifying the effects of human impacts at the population level usually involves a certain amount of population modelling, and this needs to draw on results of demographic studies, observational studies, distributional studies and abundance estimates.  Much of the SMRU’s work in this area is closely related to ongoing agency or inter-governmental committee work.


SMRU has a close association with several relevant bodies, such as the International Whaling Commission, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the Agreement of the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas, and with inter-agency efforts at a UK level to implement the provisions of the EU Habitats Directive.  

SMRU also answers directly to the Special Committee on Seals that was established under the Conservation of Seals Act.  In all cases SMRU acts to provide balanced and objective advice to government agencies, industry and others in the pursuit of the conservation objectives to which the UK is a signatory.



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