Braemar Pockmarks SAC and Scanner Pockmark SAC

 

Background

Braemar Pockmarks Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Scanner Pockmark SAC were submitted as candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs) to the European Commission in 2008 for the protection of the Annex I habitat ‘Submarine structures made by leaking gases’; the European Commission confirmed the areas as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) in 2009.  Both sites were formally designated as SACs by the UK in 2015.

Braemar Pockmarks SAC contains several records of confirmed methane-derived authigenic carbonate (MDAC) structures within pockmarks. Scanner Pockmark has historical records of confirmed MDAC but more recent remote sensing surveys have found only potential records rather than confirmed observations of the MDAC.

 

Rationale underpinning proposed site boundary amendments

Additional survey data gathered in 2012 indicated that pockmarks, with associated potential or confirmed MDAC, occurred beyond the boundaries of both sites. This finding prompted JNCC to assess whether the existing site boundaries remained appropriate for the protection of the Annex I habitat ‘Submarine structures made by leaking gases’ in the region. JNCC concluded that in both cases the original site boundaries should be extended to reflect our improved understanding of the distribution and extent of the Annex I feature in the area.

The proposed revisions to both SAC boundaries are polygons enclosing the minimum area necessary to ensure protection of the Annex I habitat feature, following the known extent of the habitat feature as closely as possible in line with JNCC’s marine SAC boundary definition guidelines.  A buffer has been added around the pockmark features depending on water depth to reduce the risk of damage.

 

Potential impacts to human activities

JNCC reviewed the available information on human activities within the existing SAC boundaries, as well as the area covered by the proposed boundary amendments. The most likely scenario will be that any management actions implemented within the existing site boundaries will also be applied to the proposed boundary amendments.

Fisheries management measures have already been proposed for the existing sites and the proposed boundary amendments. Further information can be found on Marine Scotland’s webpages.

 

Public consultation

The formal consultation period on the proposed amendments to the boundary of Braemar Pockmarks SAC and Scanner Pockmark SAC ran from 25th August to midnight 17th November 2017.  JNCC are currently reviewing comments and a post-consultation report will be made available in due course.

 

A number of documents were prepared to support this public consultation and are available below.

 

  Relevant Documentation
1 Consultation summary document
2 Frequently Asked Questions
3

Boundary amendment documents

Braemar Pockmarks SAC
Scanner Pockmark SAC

4

Revised SAC Selection Assessment documents

Braemar Pockmarks SAC
Scanner Pockmark SAC

5

Impact Assessment Screening documents

Braemar Pockmarks SAC
Scanner Pockmark SAC

6

Draft Conservation Objectives and Advice on Operations documents

Braemar Pockmarks SAC
Scanner Pockmark SAC

7

Advice on Operations workbooks

Braemar Pockmarks SAC
Scanner Pockmark SAC

 

More information on the sites can be found on the Site Information Centres for Braemar Pockmarks SAC and Scanner Pockmark SAC.

 

 

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