Students receive national awards for marine conservation research

Public Domain. MERIS, ESA Envisat image. Plankton bloom stretching across the Northeast Passage in the Barents Sea.

Public Domain. MERIS, ESA Envisat image. Plankton bloom stretching across the Northeast Passage in the Barents Sea.

13th January 2016: P1 Marine Foundation today announced the winners of its National Student Awards which are supported by The Crown Estate, Marine Conservation Society and the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST). The overall winner, Alice McNeal, SIMarEST who is currently studying a BSc in Biological Sciences at University of Exeter, was awarded the top prize for her ground-breaking project ‘Plankton eating plastic: worth worrying about?’ and will receive £1000 to further her research. Her work is being undertaken at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

The Marine Conservation Society Wakefield Memorial Award went to Jack Emmerson, studying a PhD at Bangor University, for his project ‘Sustainable static-gear fisheries in the Irish Sea’. The runner up was Catherine Hinds, SIMarEST for her project ‘Using social media as an untapped resource for a photo-identification study of bottlenose dolphins’. She is currently studying a BSc Marine Biology at Queen’s University Belfast.

One of the judges from the judging panel, Dr Laura Foster, Marine Conservation Society Pollution Programme Manager said “It was really great to see breadth and innovation from students working on helping to conserve our oceans. The variety of projects awarded reflects the quality of the submissions and it is wonderful to see the next generation of marine conservationists.”

The Awards, which will be presented at a central London venue in February, were launched by P1 Marine Foundation in 2012 to reward students in higher education who produce outstanding work that will help to protect and conserve the marine environment. The ceremony will give the students the opportunity to showcase their projects to an audience of academics, business leaders and NGOs.

The runner up and the Wakefield Memorial Award winner will both receive £500, and the top prize will also feature in IMarEST’s (Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology) international industry publication, The Marine Professional, and a leading marine technical journal which reaches 16000 members.

Dr Bev MacKenzie, Technical and Policy Director, IMarEST said “We are delighted to be supporting such a fantastic initiative. Ultimately these projects will contribute towards the next generation of marine research”.

“This year we received excellent undergraduate and postgraduate entries from all across the UK, with a wide range of projects including marine litter, seabed activity, marine spatial management, monitoring of megafauna and sustainable fisheries.” said Sabrina Taseer, projects and development manager at P1 Marine Foundation. “We are delighted that our Awards are giving prominence to exciting and valuable projects of this nature that go beyond research and analysis to develop solutions for marine conservation.”

Entries were judged by a panel including Dr Laura Foster, Marine Conservation Society Pollution Programme Manager; Maya Plass, Marine Biologist and Presenter and Dr Trevor Dixon, Marine Pollution Specialist at Advisory Committee of the Protection of the Sea.