Rachel Shucksmith


Marine Spatial Planning Manager

Rachel manages the Marine Spatial Planning section within the Shetland UHI department, Marine Science and Technology. The section undertakes applied research and consultancy projects relating or informing marine management and decision making and is also responsible for delivering the Shetland Islands Regional Marine Plan.

Rachel has developed an international reputation in linking interdisciplinary marine science with real-life management opportunities and challenges, including marine planning. Rachel is a regularly invited speaker to conferences and workshops to provide keynotes in the area of marine planning, ecosystem-based management, and integration of local values in marine planning. Rachel’s research sections achievements include:

  • development of decision support tools to guide commercial decision making (e.g. offshore renewables, oil and gas, harbour management)
  • development of one of Europe’s first and most advanced marine plans in Shetland
  • integration of cultural ecosystem services into decision making
  • marine value mapping
  • inclusion of local knowledge in decision making

Rachel trained and worked as a marine biologist before undertaking further post-graduate study in environmental decision making at the Open University, and more recently pursuing a PhD in marine planning at the University of Portsmouth. Rachel is particularly interested in how different data types can be used as an evidence base to inform effective decision making, and how stakeholder engagement can improve data quality and acceptance. Over the last 15 years Rachel has led several projects that have required the use of multiple data sets to guide development and inform policy development. Many of these projects have been interdisciplinary in nature.

Rachel is currently accepting PhD students.

Rachel has secured and overseen research and consultancy funding applications from a range of public and private organisations, including the UK Research Councils (e.g. BBRC), Government (e.g. Scottish Parliament), Government Departments or agencies (e.g. Marine Scotland, NatureScot), charities (e.g. The Heritage Lottery, Carnegie Trust), industry (e.g. offshore wind, oil and gas), and industry- research partnerships (Fisheries Innovation Scotland, Sullom Voe Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group).

Current and recent projects include:

  • Shetland Islands regional Marine Plan
  • Shetland Community Wildlife Group – Heritage Lottery Funding
  • Supervision of ‘The siting of offshore renewable energy developments in a crowded marine space’ – Bryden Centre PhD candidate Inne Withouck
  • Using marine planning to balance competing demands on the marine environment: International comparisons. MAST-S report to ECCLR committee, Scottish Parliament
  • Biotope analysis and habitat mapping of Drop-down Video surveys
  • Sullom Voe Harbour Master Plan
  • Identification of suitable locations for marine renewables in Scotland
  • Participatory mapping of inshore fishing grounds around Shetland
  • Fisheries management in the context of shared seas – Fisheries Innovation Scotland
  • Invasive Non-Native Species monitoring at key locations around Shetland

Technical Expertise

Rachel has twenty years’ experience using data and geo-information to guide marine decision making, promoting blue growth whilst managing environmental impacts.

Industry and Knowledge Exchange

Rachel regularly works with a range of commercial users including aquaculture, oil and gas, marine renewables, and fisheries and stakeholders, including NGOs, government agencies, and regulators.

Policy and Knowledge Transfer

Rachel is an invited expert and speaker at multiple international workshops developing marine planning, Co-Chair of the MASTS Marine Planning and Governance Forum, member of ICES Marine planning and coastal zone management working group, lead researcher Shetland Marine Planning Partnership, and was invited to provide evidence to Scottish Parliament ECCLR committee.

Pure: https://pure.uhi.ac.uk/en/persons/rachel-shucksmith