The North-East Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control (NMBAQC) Co-ordinating Committee is a UK and RoI group consisting of members from the competent monitoring authorities (CMAs). These include the Environment Agency (EA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland (DAERA), Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), National Resources Wales (NRW) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The Chair and Technical Secretary of the group are from the Marine Biological Association (MBA). The phytoplankton component is operated by the Marine Institute (of Ireland).

The NMBAQC scheme was established in 1994 to provide member authorities external quality assurance for the analysis of marine biological samples. It is the largest scheme of its kind in Europe. The scheme reports to the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group (HBDSEG) under the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS). Its main aim is to provide assessment of marine biological data used in UK national or European monitoring programmes.

The performance of all the participants of the scheme is summarised in bulletins and reports. In some exercises, participant samples are selected and assessed against scheme standards. This is to see whether sample analysis achieves an acceptable quality level. The participating labs are then issued with a Statement of Performance certificate annually. Clients can request these certificates for consideration when awarding work to those labs.

APEM Ltd will continue to provide the services required for benthic invertebrate and particle size components of the NMBAQC scheme. This will be under the new contract which runs until 2023. The fish component will also now be delivered by APEM, who will report back to the NMBAQC Co-ordinating Committee and its component contract managers.

This prestigious contract fits well with APEM’s own ethos of providing a quality service for our clients. It highlights the confidence in APEM to deliver audit and training services to the highest scientific standard. After all, the NMBAQC standards represent the benchmark in Europe, ensuring that datasets are quality assured, robust and defensible.

David Hall, APEM’s Director of Laboratories and Marine Consultancy, says, “APEM are delighted to be continuing with the delivery of the NMBAQC scheme and to be adding the fish component to our remit. We look forward to further improving the quality of marine biological data. We will ensure that best practice methods advance through participant collaboration and training workshops. The next sets of invertebrate, fish and particle size ring tests are already being prepared by our scientists.”

More information, including how to sign up for the next round of exercise, can be found on the NMBAQC scheme’s website. If you have any queries, contact us directly on

If you have any queries, please contact David Hall, Director of Marine Services.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 01614428938.