About Us

AQASS is focussed on managing and understanding aquatic systems, ecology and environment, water governance and supply and resultant high level problem solving, investigations and advice. Working in intertidal to offshore and river to estuarine systems we support commercial groups, government, conservation bodies and charities. Experience shows that we are approached when a situation requires specific input not readily available or, not unreasonably, not in-house. This ranges from regulatory requirements to specific approaches to habitat management, remediation or improvement and acute events, to chronic conditions with long or short term implications for habitats, species and water resources. In addition, increasingly, novel data collection methods and opportunities are investigated in order to work with aquatic systems and water resources to achieve optimisation. This has resulted in experience in global problem solving and input to commercial, government, conservation and research projects.


AQASS was founded by co-directors Drs Simon Bray and Ilse Steyl in 2016. Combined they have almost half a century of experience in consultancy, research and education in marine, estuarine and freshwater systems.

Dr Simon Bray

Simon’s experience covers commercial, research and education for marine ecological sciences. His PhD, from the University of Southampton, studied antifoul pollution impacts on non-target species whereupon he focuses his interests in marine pollution, ecology, ecotoxicology, habitat restoration and management of human impacts on marine / estuarine and freshwater interface systems.

Simon has interests in non-native marine species and is currently leading an ESRI supported research project developing an environmental management tool for shipping using a GIS web interface, he is also a member of the IMarEST Biofouling Management Expert Committee. He has been regularly engaged to provide expertise on marine pollution and environmental impacts (EIA) of marine / estuarine based projects, management of contaminated harbour sediments and ecological risks, and has provided risk assessments for non-native species transfer.

Simon was an invited guest and respondent to a Netherlands Government meeting in 2018 to discuss regulation against copper based antifoul and in 2018-2019 he undertook two projects for the UN International Maritime Organisation considering marine microplastic pollution and end-of-life Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) vessel disposal. In 2019 as part of the IMarEST group, he provided feedback to the Australian Govt. Department of Agriculture’s Consultation Regulation Impact Statement regarding biofouling management and in water cleaning approaches.

Simon retains visiting researcher status at the University of Southampton where he recently gave a series of 3rd year lectures on marine pollution, non -native marine species, and marine ecology and human project impacts. He has regularly been asked to comment on marine pollution aspects for media articles, particularly antifoul related. Simon is a grant reviewer for Hong Kong University (marine pollution and ecology) and an invited reviewer for papers from the Journal of the Marine Biological Association and has a continuing record of academic papers mainly in marine ecology and pollution.

Dr Ilse Steyl

Ilse obtained her PhD at the University of Southampton, investigating GIS use in water catchment management and how spatial modelling can improve the prediction of future water availability within catchment areas, considering current and predicted future development, physical and biological constraints and policy.

Subsequently, Ilse has extensive experience in water resources management and spatial data science, with a background in catchment, estuarine and fluvial geomorphological systems. Ilse’s water resources skills have led her to work on various UNDP, EU, DFID and World Bank projects examining the impact of land use change and practices on rivers, estuaries and coastal systems and the vulnerability of human communities to these changes; these projects have involved global travel from UK to former Soviet Bloc nations, China / Africa / Philippines etc.

Her knowledge of and experience in water resource management and assessment has led to her providing consultation support for the environmental impact phase of HS2 and for the Heathrow Expansion and proposed 3rd runway development. To compliment her water resources skills, Ilse has in-depth knowledge of GIS analysis, data management and geospatial modelling. Working with Simon, Ilse has authored a GIS study of the management of contaminated harbour sediments, and has had input on numerous marine habitat restoration studies using GIS for temporal / spatial assessment. In addition, Ilse is working with Simon on the ESRI backed AQASS project researching developing an environmental management tool for shipping using a GIS web interface.

She is a visiting researcher at the University of Southampton as well as a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a Practitioner Member of IEMA. She has co-authored several papers including an internationally cited study considering habitat refugia in climate change scenarios; she also presented a paper at the annual meeting of the British Society for Geomorphology in 2019.


To remain flexible in approach, AQASS works with associates / partners to offer further skills including:
  • Biotic and abiotic resource surveys, management and logistical organisation;
  • ROV surveys, which can alleviate need for complex survey teams where suitable;
  • Aerial and unmanned vessel surveys;
  • Marine infaunal and epifaunal species identification, sample quality control.

SAND Geophysics Logo
To compliment AQASS, we are partnered with SAND Seabed And Near-surface Detection who provide geophysical survey support and consultancy, specialising in shallow, high-resolution marine geophysical data acquisition and processing.
AQASS's services are enhanced through the global services and consultancy SAND provides in support of offshore infrastructure planning and detection, development and monitoring, environmental consents and monitoring, and coastal resource management. Their services focus on the use of the latest technology and methods to assist clients push the limits of current capabilities and achieve the best practical solutions.
On a similar model to AQASS, to maintain knowledge at the forefront of geophysical and survey techniques and equipment, SAND engage in regular research and development projects working closely with both industry partners and academics through the University of Southampton and Imperial College London.
SAND provide a range of services from complete project management and execution to consultancy and advisory roles with specific expertise in unexploded ordnance detection, ultra-high resolution seismic data acquisition and processing, client representation, project management and the development of new technologies.