Michael C. Bell

Research Associate

+44 (0) 1856 850605
Old Academy, Back Road, Stromness, Orkney, KW16 3AW
Roles and responsibilities

Research Associate

  • Ecological consequences of marine renewable energy developments
  • Sustainable fisheries


  • Fisheries stock assessment, monitoring and modelling
  • Statistical analysis and modelling
  • Impacts of marine renewable energy developments

My principal research focus is on the ecological consequences of wave and tidal energy developments. As part of the EPSRC-funded TeraWatt project I am investigating the role of marine energy as an ecological factor governing the distribution and abundance of marine organisms. Extraction of energy from waves and tides potentially changes hydrodynamic processes at scales raging from metres to tens of kilometres and greater; we are developing and using macro-ecological models to predict the consequences of such changes for marine ecology.

I am co-supervising a PhD student examining ecological baseline variability for intertidal areas around Orkney as background against which impacts would be measured (funded by Orkney Islands Council).

Also relevant to environmental and ecological interactions with wave and tidal energy developments, I am Chair of the ICES Study Group on the Environmental Impacts of Wave and Tidal Energy (SGWTE) and the ICES Workshop on Wave and Tidal Energy Test Sites (WKWTETS).

Interactions with renewable energy developments represent potential opportunities as well as impacts in the marine environment. I am presently contributing to the NERC-funded QBEX project, considering the potential spill-over benefits of fishery exclusion zones around marine renewable energy installations. I am developing individual-based models of fish and shellfish movements in relation to development areas in order to determine the implications for fishery availability.

I am also interested in science in support fishery sustainability more generally and have been working with local fisheries organisations on monitoring and assessment of creel fisheries and spatial patterns in relation to leasing areas for wave and tidal energy developments. I am supervising a PhD student researching these issues in Orkney waters and the Pentland Firth (funded by Orkney Islands Council). I am also a co-supervisor for a NERC-funded CASE studentship (based at Newcastle University and Cefas) looking at crustacean fishery monitoring in NE England.

I contribute statistical and mathematical modelling skills to the work of the ICIT research team, and am currently developing a model for co-variation among renewable energy resources around Orkney, examining the implications for sharing of grid capacity.

Selected publications
  1. Addison, J.T. & Bell, M.C., 1997. Simulation modelling of capture processes in trap fisheries for clawed lobsters. Marine and Freshwater Research, 48, 1035-1044.
  2. Atkinson, P.W., Clark, N.A., Bell, M.C., Dare, P.J., Clark, J.A. & Ireland, P.L., 2003. Changes in commercially fished shellfish stocks and shorebird populations in the Wash, England. Biological Conservation, 114, 127-141.
  3. Bell, M.C., Addison, J.T. & Bannister, R.C.A., 2001. Estimating trapping areas from trap-catch data for lobsters and crabs. Marine and Freshwater Research, 52, 1233-1242.
  4. Bell, M.C. & Side, J.C., 2011. Environmental impacts of tidal and wave power developments and key issues for consideration by environment agencies. Background Paper for Task 2 of Sniffer Contract ER20: Tidal Technologies: Key issues across planning and development for environmental regulators. International Centre for Island Technology, Heriot‐Watt University, Stromness.
  5. Bell, M.C., Eaton, D.R., Bannister, R.C.A. & Addison, J.T., 2003. A mark-recapture approach to estimating population density from continuous trapping data: application to edible crabs, Cancer pagurus, on the east coast of England. Fisheries Research, 65, 361-378.
  6. Bell, M.C., Elson, J.M. & Addison, J.T., 2005. The effects of spatial targeting of fishing effort on the distribution of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, on the Farn Deeps grounds. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 39, 1023-1037.
  7. Bell, M.C., Elson, J.M., Addison, J.T., Revill, A.S. & Bevan, D., 2008. Trawl catch composition in relation to Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus L.) abundance on the Farn Deeps grounds, NE England. Fisheries Research, 90, 128-137.
  8. Bell, M.C., Grist, E.P.M., Baston, S., Rouse, S., Spencer Jones, M., Porter, J.S., Want, A., Harris, R.E. & Side, J.C., 2011. Hydrokinetic energy as an ecological factor – how might wave and tidal energy extraction affect the distribution of marine organisms? ICES CM 2011/S:16.
  9. Bell, M.C., Redant, F. & Tuck, I., 2006. Nephrops species. pp.412-461 in: Phillips, B.F. (ed.). Lobsters: biology, management, aquaculture and fisheries. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
  10. Bell, M.C., Side, J.C., Kerr, S., Johnson, K.R., Baston, S. & Bullen, C.R., 2010. The emergence of a new marine renewable energy industry – what are the implications for fisheries? ICES CM 2010/O:06.
  11. Dunnington, M., Wahle, R.A., Bell, M.C. & Geraldi, N.R., 2005. Evaluating local population dynamics of the American lobster with trap-based mark-recapture methods and seabed mapping. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 39, 1253-1276.
  12. Hunter, E., Buckley, A., Darnaude, A. & Bell, M.C., 2009. Applying individual-based telemetry data in fishery management: a biologically based movement model for plaice in the North Sea. ICES CM 2009/J:04.
  13. O'Donnell, K.P., Wahle, R.A., Bell, M.C. & Dunnington, M.J., 2007. Spatially referenced trap arrays detect sediment disposal impacts on lobsters and crabs in a New England estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 348, 249-260.
  14. Shields, M.A., Woolf, D.K., Grist, E.P.M., Kerr, S.A., Jackson, A.C., Harris, R.E., Bell, M.C., Beharie, R., Want, A., Osalusi, E., Gibb, S.W. & Side, J., 2011. Marine renewable energy: the ecological implications of altering the hydrodynamics of the marine environment. Ocean and Coastal Management, 54, 2-9.
  15. Stillman, R.A., West, A.D., Goss-Custard, J.D., Caldow, R.W.G., McGrorty, S., Durell, S.E.A. le V. dit, Yates, M.G., Atkinson, P.W., Clark, N.A., Bell, M.C., Dare, P.J. & Mander, M., 2003. An individual behaviour-based model can predict shorebird mortality using routinely collected shellfishery data. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40, 1090-1101.

Studied Applied Biology (BSc, 1st Class) at the University of Bradford, 1981-85, with a sandwich year (1983-84) at the Freshwater Biological Association River Laboratory in Dorset.

University of Wales Studentship at University College Wales, Aberystwyth, 1985-88, researching the population and reproductive ecology of a gravel beach amphipod (Pectenogammarus planicrurus). Thesis submitted and PhD awarded in 1992.

Senior Wetland Ecologist at The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, 1989-96, undertaking research on waterfowl population dynamics and wetlands ecology and providing statistical support to research department.

Senior Shellfish Biologist, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft, 1996-2005, undertaking research on population and fisheries biology of shellfish, and contributing to advice on fishery management to UK government and at international level. Chaired the ICES Working Group on Nephrops Stocks, 2002-2004.

Self-employed Fisheries Research Consultant, Lowestoft and Orkney, 2005-2008, undertaking consultancy relating to sustainable exploitation, particularly of shellfish stocks, and interactions between fisheries and bird populations. Clients mainly government agencies in UK, Ireland and USA.

Research Associate at ICIT in Orkney, 2008-present, focusing on research into ecological consequences of marine renewable energy developments.