Close-up of a microscrope in a laboratory

Work on this year’s NE Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control scheme (NMBAQC) was completed on time, despite a new more rigorous schedule.

This came two years after APEM’s marine laboratories took over running two components of the scheme, benthic invertebrates and particle size analysis. These involved auditing almost 270 samples and associated specimens, leading to 117 interim reports and four annual reports.

A total of 45 laboratories from across Europe took part in the scheme including the Environment Agency, SEPA, CEFAS, Marine Scotland, AFBI, NIEA, JNCC and a number of independent environmental consultancies.

Attendees at NMBAQC taxonomic workshop

As part of the scheme, experts in marine taxonomy from around the UK and internationally met in October at a training workshop organised by APEM, on the Isle of Cumbrae.

APEM’s phytoplankton team was also awarded a marine contract with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to analyse about 300 samples over six months. The phytoplankton team, who are all BEQUALM qualified, bring a wealth of experience and routinely carry out work on contracts of this size for government agencies.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency meanwhile awarded us its 2016 diatom contract, which saw our six-person team process and analyse up to 200 samples over five months.

The analysts and processors are able to analyse any type of aquatic diatom sample and are all members of the national ring test scheme, which is a prerequisite for diatom work to be carried out for all UK government agencies.

In Wales, our freshwater macroinvertebrate team retained the contract to audit Natural Resources Wales (NRW) macroinvertebrate samples for 2016. This follows on from the successful 2015 audit. Our ten-strong freshwater macroinvertebrate team is one of the most experienced in the UK, with over 120 years’ combined experience and knowledge.

Elsewhere, our marine zooplankton and phytoplankton teams have been busy conducting short-notice analysis of ship ballast water over the last two years at a UK port, in order to assess compliance with the Ballast Water Convention of the International Marine Organisation, which was ratified this year.

  • Close up of sample from NMBAQC scheme
  • Close up of lab sample from NMBAQC scheme
  • Microscope picture of sample
  • Microscope picture of sample

Head of laboratories, David Hall explained: “APEM’s capacity to produce consistently high quality biological data for samples derived from all aquatic habitats is what marks us out.

“This is credit to the large number of dedicated specialist biologists in our laboratories team.”