SAMS news room

SAMS addresses funding challenges

Oban, 15 April 2015. Today the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) informed its 166 Oban-based staff that it has to re-balance its operations to remain a viable and thriving not-for-profit organisation under challenging economic conditions. Budget forecasts indicate that an approximate 10% budget cut will need to be implemented for SAMS to avoid a deficit in 2015-16.

Professor Axel Miller, Acting Director of SAMS, said: "We are a big family at SAMS characterised by highly competent and enthusiastic staff that are committed to working hard for a healthy marine environment for the good of society. It is heart-breaking that we cannot operate sustainably in the current financial climate with the existing staff numbers. Salaries are the main cost figure for SAMS and we cannot find the required savings without reducing the staff levels."

SAMS is an independent charitable organisation with an annual operating budget of around £10 million. It does not receive any substantial grant in aid but has to earn its income for research, education and commercial activities in an increasingly competitive and restricted funding climate.

The underlying cause for this situation relates largely to the global economic downturn since 2008 with less investment available for marine science.

"Until this year we have been able to delay shrinking our operations by raising our game and performing better year on year: The recognised quality and impact of our research has never been higher, as proven recently by our grading in the independently assessed national research grading exercise. We are also attracting more students and deliver more courses with a new European Masters programme in aquaculture, environment and society starting in autumn. Additionally we are increasing our activity with the private sector through our commercial subsidiary company SRSL. Just this week some of our research with commercial partners has been shortlisted for a Crown Estate Scottish Aquaculture Award 2015.

"It is very sad that we have to lose some of our colleagues although we have performed so well across our activities and while the oceans face increasing challenges that require more marine science. 

"But by making these very difficult changes now we will remain a strong organisation ready to grow in the future when the funding environment improves. In the meantime we will continue to make a valued contribution to marine science in Scotland and beyond. 

SAMS is now consulting with the union representatives and wider staff and is calling for volunteers to come forward for voluntary redundancy, early retirement and part-time working. In May management will consider any additional roles at risk and confirm redundancies.

Following the sudden death of our Director Professor Laurence Mee in August 2014, SAMS is currently going through the process of identifying a successor to lead the staff into a new period of development.

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Dr Anuschka Miller (Head of Communications)  M: 07786 327780  E:

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