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Habitat characterisation

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  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment for Area 6 (SEA6) an environmental survey was carried out from Kommandor Jack during October 2003. The aim of the survey was to acquire seabed and water samples for biological, physical and chemical analysis together with video and digital stills photography to ground-truth the geophysical data ans enable a general characterisation of seafloor habitats and community types present within a number of offshore areas containing pockmarks and shallow gas seeps within the Irish Sea. The areas surveyed were: St Georges Wall; Yuan's Pockmarks; Pisces Reef; Texel 11, Codlings Extension; Harvey's Trench; Texel 10. This report provides a log of the field sampling work undertaken.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA3) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). This report summarises sites which are protected for reasons other than nature conservation in the SEA3 area of the North Sea. They include sites of geological importance, archaeological importance, sites of designated water quality for bathing, and areas of bivalve shellfish production. Sites of geological importance include Geological Conservation Review sites (GCRs), geological Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological sites (RIGS). Sites of archaeological importance include wrecks and scheduled monuments. A large number of wrecks exist in the SEA3 area, most uncharted. The majority of wrecks are found in coastal waters. Important historic wrecks in UK waters are protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Water samples are regularly taken from numerous beaches along the east coast for physical, chemical and microbiological analysis. Bathing beaches are classified according to national and European standards for quality. In the UK, shellfish for human consumption must be harvested from designated production areas.

  • This report describes fieldwork operations of the North Sea Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2) Survey, Leg 3 (crests survey) conducted for he Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) from R/V Vigilance between 14 and 22 June 2001. The survey objectives were to carry out quantitative seabed sampling and seabed photography in SEA2 Survey Area 1 (sand bank / wave study areas, off the Norfolk coast). The report contains a brief description of seabed appearance and epifauna. 82 samples were collected.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA6) a seabed survey was carried out. The survey comprised photography and seabed sediment and water sampling. The purpose of these surveys was to shed light on the distribution and extent of methane-derived autigenic carbonate (MDAC) in the Irish Sea. 942 photographs are available. Cruise report is available.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2), this report briefly describes the evidence for the origin of shallow gas in Outer Moray Firth open blocks 15/20c and 15/25d. Sea floor pockmarks are known to occur within these blocks, and they indicate the seepage of gas from shallow levels into the local water column. An environmental concern is that any industry activity in these blocks must not plumb into any component of the system that is sustaining the gas seepages at sea bed. The study area covers two part-blocks within the eastern part of the Witch Ground Graben within the UK Central North Sea. This study follows on from the DTI 2001 SEA research on pockmarks.

  • This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA3) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). It provides an overview of the various management plans which have been developed for the coastal zone, coastal defence, estuaries, biodiversity and coastal habitats in the SEA3 area of the North Sea. Numerous dynamic processes, both natural and man-made, affect the SEA3 coastline. After reviewing these processes, the report reviews the various coastal initiatives and management strategies which have been established to minimise their detrimental effects. Various coastal fora provide a lead in developing management strategies for the enhancement and protection of the environment in their areas. Plans include European marine site management schemes, shoreline management plans prepared by coastal defence authorities, estuary management plans, coastal habitat management plans and biodiversity action plans.

  • Seabed sampling with video and digital stills photography; Moray Firth, Southern Trench, Sandy Riddle, Pobie Bank, Braer Study Area, Fair Isle, Papa and Turbot Banks, Smith Bank and JONSIS Transect. This report forms the second of two reports relating to 2 research cruises undertaken on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) during the Strategic Environmental Assessment 5 (SEA5). Data were collected by the RV Kommandor Jack during the period September 17th - October, 8th, 2003. The report describes the collection of a variety of benthic sediment samples for the analysis of particle size, hydrocarbon and heavy metal content, and benthic fauna composition. These were collected in order to enable groundtruthing and interpretation of the various geophysical data-sets collected during the first cruise. In addition, marine video surveying techniques were used to photograph parts of the seabed.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2), this report reviews pockmarks in the North Sea. Pockmarks frequently contain unusual densities of fish, typically large gadoids such as cod, torsk and ling. High densities of fish otoliths have been found in one North Sea pockmark. The existence of cemented sediment in the base of pockmarks can provide a refuge for fish and a hard substrate for colonisation by epifauna such as anthozoa. Deep active pockmarks, such as the three studied in block 15/25, are known to contain species dependent on high sulphide concentrations, originating from seepage or enhanced sedimentation. Some of these species are not found elsewhere in the open North Sea. The 20 m deep "Scanner" pockmark in block 15/25 is the only pockmark in the UK sector of the North Sea whose biology has been studied in detail. It is the only known habitat of the gutless nematode Astononema southwardorum.

  • Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) as part of the SEA1 (White Zone) environmental sampling programme. The biodiversity, characteristics and distinguishing features of deep-water epifaunal communities from the Wyville-Thomson Ridge, Darwin Mounds and Faeroes Plateau. Samples were obtained using a benthic television (TV) grab on board the R/V Professor Logachev during cruises in August 2000. 19 grab samples were collected.

  • As part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) a seabed sampling survey was undertaken at Anton Dohrn Seamount, Rockall Bank, Hatton Bank, George Bligh Bank and Rosemary Bank. The objective of this cruise were: To carry out a seafloor sampling programme in selected areas within the SEA7 area of the UK Continental Shelf to the west of Scotland. The purpose of this work is to study the ecology of seamounts and other potential Annex 1 (Habitats Directive) type habitats in deep water. The survey to include target areas of the Anton Dohrn and Rosemary Bank seamounts and the George Bligh Bank, northern Rockall Bank and selected areas on the Hatton Bank. The sampling to be guided by a broad survey designed developed in advance of the cruise and modified on the basis of field observations and information generated by geophysical data, including swathe bathymetry, side scan sonar and sub-bottom profiling, conducted immediately previously to this seafloor sampling programme; To similarly carry out seafloor photographic surveys in the same areas; To repeat seafloor sampling at selected stations on transects previously sampled by SAMS during oil-industry related surveys, and the LOIS-SES surveys. 54 video files are available and 1813 photos are available.