SMRU > About SMRU > Background Information
SMRU is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Collaborative
Centre that provides the UK’s main science capability in the field of
marine mammal biology. NERC strategic science funding supports a small
proportion of SMRU’s overall research activities and the resources
contributed by NERC mainly fund research on seals, thus reflecting the
strategic need to support the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. However,
SMRU also focuses >50% of its research effort on cetaceans. In
agreement with NERC, SMRU raises the remainder of the funding to
support its strategic research programme from other sources, including
the EU, Defra, Scottish Government, MoD, DBERR and from an income
stream generated as a result of the development and supply of
instrumentation to the rest of the science community.
SMRU’s current strategic science priorities include: evaluating the
status of marine mammal populations; investigating the importance of
marine mammals as components of marine ecosystems; determining the
dynamics of marine mammal populations; studying marine mammal social
structure and communication; providing the technological basis for
observing free-ranging marine mammals and their environment.
SMRU’s activities address the
requirements for information about marine mammals identified in the UK
and Scottish Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Strategies and,
most importantly, in the new Strategy for Scotland’s Coast and Inshore
Waters. It is also relevant to the Joint UK Response to the Review of
Marine Nature Conservation, the EU Marine Strategy and the UK Small
Cetacean Bycatch Response Strategy. In addition to these inputs to
government, SMRU has an important near-market role providing advice to
marine industry and providing services to the science community, mainly
through instrument design and manufacture and software development.
SMRU also takes advantage of the iconic status of marine mammals to
improve public knowledge about the marine environment.