Report 431
An analysis of the numbers and distribution of seabirds within the British Fishery Limit aimed at identifying areas that qualify as possible marine SPAs
(2010)
Kober, K., Webb, A., Win, I., Lewis, M., O'Brien, S, Wilson, L.J, Reid, J.B.
The aim of this report is to document the analysis conducted by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in 2007-2009 for the identification of the most suitable areas for the protection of seabirds within the British Fishery Limit. It provides a description of the data used, details of the methods, and intermediate and final results. The discussion also contains an assessment of which of the areas identified could be considered as possible Special Protection Areas, and which areas would require further investigation. The report does not provide a suite of definite sites for submission to the European Commission, but provides necessary information for the responsible authorities to enable an informed decision to be made on the suitability of areas at sea for consideration as possible Special Protection Areas using the best available data. Final recommendations for the consideration of possible SPAs will be given in a separate further paper.

Summary

 
 
 

In 1979, the European Community adopted the Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds (commonly known as the Birds Directive). This requires Member States to identify and classify the most suitable territories as special protection areas (SPAs) for the conservation of rare and vulnerable species listed on Annex I of the Directive as well as regularly occurring migratory species. A number of potential ways of addressing marine SPAs in the UK are currently being considered:

1. Extensions to existing seabird colony SPAs boundaries into the marine environment;

2. Inshore areas used by waterbirds (e.g. seaduck, divers and grebes) outwith the breeding season;

3. Offshore areas used by seabirds, for feeding and other activities; and

4. Other types of SPA not captured by the above approaches.

This report describes an analysis of European Seabirds at Sea (ESAS) data, conducted to identify and delineate seabird aggregations within the British Fishery Limit that might qualify as SPAs. ESAS data used in this analysis were collected using standardised transect methods from boats over more than 30 years. The data are counts of seabirds for subsections of a strip transect. All years of data were combined and then split by species and season in order to link possible SPAs to key stages in the seabirds‟ annual cycle. Some data were excluded because their quality might have been compromised. A correction factor was applied to adjust numbers of species where detection probability decreased with distance from observers.

 

 
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ISSN 0963-8091
 
Please cite as: Kober, K., Webb, A., Win, I., Lewis, M., O'Brien, S, Wilson, L.J, Reid, J.B., (2010), An analysis of the numbers and distribution of seabirds within the British Fishery Limit aimed at identifying areas that qualify as possible marine SPAs, JNCC Report 431, ISSN 0963-8091