a man lowers a camera underwater

Marine monitoring

Keeping our seas clean and healthy by monitoring and measuring water quality and pollution

We monitor and map the health of seas and oceans, measure water quality, and evaluate pollution from chemicals and marine litter. We provide advice to help achieve national and global environmental commitments, and to ensure clean and resilient marine environments. The collected data is managed for the long-term, openly accessible and analysed to produced scientific based evidence on the status of our seas. Our work is internationally recognised and published in scientific journals.

a false colour underwater map showing the relief of the seafloor

Our marine monitoring programmes were initially developed in response to site-specific concerns associated with human pressures, primarily fisheries and contaminants, but have evolved over time to cover wider aspects of the ecosystem.  We now monitor many novel elements including marine litter, invasive species, and even underwater noise.



We monitor marine litter, invasive species, and even underwater noise

Our work is driven by policies such as the UK Marine Strategy and the EU Marine Strategy Framework. To enable the UK government to successfully implement these strategies and measure their progress we have taken a leading role in developing methods and technologies to innovate and improve the efficiency of monitoring programmes, both in the UK and beyond.

The advent of a new wave of automated technology, in combination with changing political and economic circumstances provide strong drivers to progress towards more refined, efficient, and effective ways of monitoring. 



Our vision is to develop a fully integrated ocean observation system from sample collection through to analysis, evidence building and assessment to produce scientific evidence for advice. To monitor the oceans we use a combination of traditional and newer technologies, which can be used manually or in automated semi-autonomous modes.

We collect samples of fish and water, track the movements of fish, imagine the marine environment, and classify samples using molecular and microscopic techniques. To monitor the ocean we use a range of platforms including the RV Cefas Endeavour, Smart Buoys and unmanned area vehicles.