APEM are proud to be part of delivering the NMBAQC scheme.

Created in 1994, the NMBAQC scheme was set up to provide an independent quality control for UK Competent Monitoring Authorities (CMAs) who contribute to national and European monitoring programmes.

Reporting to HBDSEG (the Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group) under the UK’s Marine Monitoring & Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS), the scheme looks to improve and maintain the standard of marine biological data generated to assess the status of marine ecological communities in waters around the UK and the North East Atlantic.

Quality assurance is crucial to ensure the reliability, consistency and quality of marine biological data, and the standardisation of it is pivotal in delivering robust evidence. Through standardised practices and processes, evolving from ongoing research, the need for data truncation can be mitigated. With less need for truncation, less information is lost through the processing and analysis of data.


The NMBAQC scheme covers seven distinct components including:

  • Macroalgae/Seagrass
  • Benthic invertebrates
  • Particle size analysis
  • Phytoplankton
  • Zooplankton
  • Epibiota
  • Fish

APEM are proud to be part of delivering the NMBAQC scheme and to be able to support the global scientific community in the standardisation of data. We feel that sharing best practice and developing taxonomic resources are of the utmost importance, both in the UK and internationally to ensure high quality, consistent data.

APEM have supported the development of the NMBAQC taxonomic literature list for several years and completed 2020’s update earlier this year. With over 3,500 literature records the latest revision has added 400 records to the previous 2018 report and has been a good housekeeping task to occupy any CV19 slowdown in sample processing work.

The 2020 Bibliography of taxonomic literature for marine and brackish water Fauna and Flora of the North East Atlantic is freely available on the NMBAQC scheme website or contact us if you have specific questions or require support.

APEM’s Role

As the appointed administrator for several components, APEM are the benchmark for benthic invertebrate, particle size and fish sample processing until 2023. The NMBAQC scheme underpins APEM’s desire to ensure that best practice methods advance through collaboration and training, giving clients the confidence to make informed decisions on the impacts on marine habitats.

By continually working with regulators such as the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the Environment Agency (EA), the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), APEM take a lead in the development of protocols and taxonomic literature reviews.

To understand how APEM help to set the highest scientific standards or to attend one of our forthcoming taxonomy workshops, please contact David Hall, NMBAQC Scheme Project Manager.


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APEM are a global environmental consultancy providing independent advice and guidance to support government and environmental regulatory guidelines.