Posted in | News | Ecosystems

North Sea Structures and the Environment Examined at Conference

Existing North Sea structures and future demands on the environment from offshore renewables and other ventures are under discussion at this year’s Structures in the Marine Environment (SIME) conference (June 17 & 18).

Over two days the online conference will focus on the impact that the presence or removal of man-made structures may have on biological marine ecosystems. Academics, stakeholders, industry and government representatives will present on the impacts, benefits and implications of marine structures and discuss how to add research and understanding of their impact to support policy and regulatory decisions.

Man-made structures (MMS) have been built into our coastal and marine environments in society’s drive for energy supply. Structures range from oil and gas installations, associated pipelines and seabed infrastructure, and increasingly, offshore wind farms which are seen as the replacement for fossil fuels.

Over the years, these structures have also become habitats and shelters for marine species and the interplay of built and natural environments is an area of growing research.

INSITE programme director, Richard Heard, said: “Science has an important role to play in both development decision-making as well as decommissioning, and we need a robust evidence base for informed environmental management decision-making.

“We need to be clear about how future MMS that are put into the marine environment will affect the marine biological ecosystems, what should happen to these structures when they have been decommissioned and what the ecological best practice is in relation to decommissioning and rigs/renewables-to-reefs.”

The full programme for the 2-day event is here:​​​​​​​

Themed sessions include:

  • Biodiversity and man-made structures
  • Restoration and man-made structures
  • Natural vs artificial substrata
  • Connectivity of structures; and
  • The social and political implications of MMS.

The conference is jointly hosted by INSITE; a joint industry initiative which encourages, through funding and facilitation, scientific research to better understand the effect of man-made structures on the North Sea and MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) based at St Andrews University.


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