National Marine Monitoring Programme (NMMP)

In 1987-88 the Marine Pollution Monitoring Management Group (MPMMG), now known as the  Marine Environment Monitoring Group (MEMG) reviewed the monitoring carried out in UK estuaries and coastal waters. They concluded that there should be consistent national standards for marine environmental quality in all UK waters and a core programme of monitoring to use these standards should be implemented involving regular sampling of a network of estuarine and coastal monitoring stations.
A network of coastal monitoring stations in estuarine, intermediate and offshore locations around the UK was therefore established. The stations chosen for sampling include both sites that may be significantly contaminated and those that are free from anthropogenic inputs, which serve as reference sites. This programme is known as the National Marine Monitoring Programme (NMMP) and methods were laid out in the NMMP monitoring manual known as the Green Book.
The programme is designed to fulfil the UK's mandatory monitoring requirements under the OSPAR Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme (JAMP) and also in support of EC Directives including the EU Water Framework Directive. The NMMP is co-ordinated by a working group of representatives from various agencies responsible for the data collection. The National Marine Monitoring Programme Working Group (NMMP WG) has 3 sub groups to ensure strict quality control of data collection and analysis and to ensure there are consistent national standards. These are:
In addition, there is a statistical group, which meets on an ad-hoc basis to support the work of the NMMP.
The NMMP WG makes recommendations to MEMG as to how new methods are best implemented in the UK. Through its monitoring programme it detects long-term trends in physical, biological and chemical variables at selected sites in order to establish if regulatory measures are effective in protecting the marine environment. From this the NMMP provides and maintains a high quality dataset for key chemical and biological variables in the marine environment of the UK and produces reports (see below) with overviews of the spatial and temporal distributions of these variables and their inter-relationships.
Existing surveillance programmes, such as the NMMP, will make a significant contribution to the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) monitoring programme, directly via the provision of data where sampling stations fall within the SAC boundary, and  indirectly by providing contextual information on local, regional and national trends in biological and chemical parameters.  Contextual information will facilitate comparisons of local site-based trends with national trends, to hopefully explain changes and ensure consistency of judgements at the national level. The wider application of the data from the National Marine Monitoring Programme: monitoring Special Areas of Conservation is further discussed within the case studies found within the UK National Marine Monitoring Programme - Second Report (1999-2001).
JNCC represents the UK conservation agencies (CCW, EHS, SNH, Natural England (formally English Nature)) on the NMMP Working Group to ensure that data from the NMMP will contribute to condition monitoring of SACs either directly, or as contextual information. This issue is discussed further in Section 1 of the Marine Monitoring Handbook.