Scientific diver

A renowned Professor of Marine Biology from Plymouth University is to become chair of the national body that oversees scientific diving standards in the UK.

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer has been appointed Chairman of the National Facility for Scientific Diving Committee, which is based at the Scottish Association of Marine Science. The Committee is responsible for reviewing diving research proposals submitted to the Natural Environment Research Council, and in particular, assessing issues such as safety, training, expedition logistics and the loan of equipment.

Professor Hall-Spencer said: 

“I’m delighted to have been asked to chair this important body, and it is recognition for Plymouth University, which has one of the few diving centres in higher education in the country. Indeed, our Dive Unit was one of the key reasons I came to Plymouth.”

Professor Hall-Spencer, who is a part of the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, and a member of the University’s Marine Institute, has carried out more than 1,000 scientific dives. This year he is working on underwater volcanoes in the Azores, Japan and Italy as part of his research on ocean acidification, pioneering the use of carbon dioxide vents as a natural analogue for coastal change. He said:

“As a scientific diver, I’ve always maintained the importance of getting professionals underwater as the trained eye picks up details. If assessments are only based on computer modelling or remote sensing, you do not get the complete picture. And even with the advancement of autonomous vehicles and robotics technology, you cannot replicate the dexterity of a human diver or their ability to identify what species are where.”

Professor Hall-Spencer will serve the next four years as Chairman.

Overfishing in the English Channel

All around the UK we are scraping the barrel, destructively dredging the seabed for scallops and prawns as fish have disappeared. When destructive fishing practices are banned, marine life soon recovers. So we urgently need a network of recovery zones.
Jason Hall-Spencer