Draft updated conservation advice is now available for East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA under the Conservation Advice tab below. JNCC are inviting feedback on this advice. Please share your comments via our short survey by 24th January 2018.

 

East of Gannet and Montrose Fields MPA

 

Status: Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area (NCMPA)Click to link to the interactive map

 

The East of Gannet and Montrose Fields MPA lies within a relatively shallow sediment plain to the east of Scotland.

 

The majority of the seabed within the MPA is dominated by sands and gravels, which are the preferred habitat of the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica). These animals can live for more than 400 years and are one of the longest living creatures on Earth. The MPA also includes a band of offshore deep sea mud. Many types of worm and mollusc live buried in the mud and provide an important food source for passing fish.

 

More detailed site information can be found on the Summary tab.

 

 

Map displaying MPA boundary and

associated protected feature data.

Visit the JNCC MPA Mapper to further

view and explore data for this MPA.

 

Legislation behind the designation: Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009)

 

Protected features

Features Feature Type Conservation Objectives
       Offshore deep sea muds                         Habitat               Conserve in favourable condition
Ocean quahog aggregations (including sands and gravels as their supporting habitat) Low or limited mobility species Conserve in favourable condition

 

The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up to date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA mapper and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Evidence tab.

 

Conservation objectives
The overarching conservation objectives for the designated features of all protected sites in UK offshore waters is to ensure they either remain in, or reach favourable condition. The ability of a designated feature to remain in, or reach favourable condition can be affected by its sensitivity to pressures associated with activities taking place within or in close proximity to a protected site. Specific information on the conservation objectives relating to this NCMPA is provided in the Conservation Advice tab.


Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA.  More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation below.

NCMPA SIC timeline


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date. This Site Information Centre is the most up to date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced.Information about the Nature Conservation MPA site selection process is available on the JNCC NCMPA pages.

 

 



Summary

 

Last updated: June 2017

 

The information for this site summary was adapted from documents listed in the Relevant Documentation and incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced.

 

Site overview

The East of Gannet and Montrose Fields MPA lies within a relatively shallow sediment plain comprised mainly of sand and gravel habitats that support a range of benthic species. One such species is the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica), which are considered Threatened and/or Declining across the North-east Atlantic by the OSPAR Commission. This species of clam is typically found beneath the surface of sandy sediments, in water depths from 4m to over 400m. Ocean quahog filter food from passing currents and use their shovel-like ‘foot’ to bury into the sediment. Ocean quahog are an important food source for several species of fish, including cod, and can live buried deep in the sand for long periods of time without food or oxygen to escape predators. They can live for more than 400 years and are one of the longest living creatures on Earth. The Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain NCMPA and Firth of Forth Banks Complex NCMPA are also located within the Northern North Sea biogeographic region and designated for ocean quahog aggregations, increasing the replication and, therefore, the resilience of this protected feature in the MPA network.

 

The MPA also protects the full extent of an area of offshore deep sea mud. By protecting the full extent of the deep sea mud in this area, the MPA protects a coherent, rather than fragmented, example of this habitat. This is one of the few examples of Atlantic-influenced offshore deep sea mud habitats on the continental shelf in the region. Furthermore, East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA is the only MPA designated in the northern North Sea region for the protection of offshore deep sea muds. The deep sea muds occur in a 2-7 km wide band from the south east to the north west of the MPA, approximately 100 m deep. There is limited evidence of the composition and diversity of the biological communities present in this habitat, but it is thought to be colonised by animals such as sea spiders, sea cucumbers and sea urchins, which may form diverse communities on the surface of the sediment. Further detail on the evidence for this NCMPA can be found on the Evidence tab.

 

Site location:  Coordinates for this NCMPA can be found in the Designation Order listed in the Relevant Documentation.

Site area: 1839 km

The East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA protects an area similar in size to the Scottish county of Caithness (1844 km2).

Site depth range: The site ranges in depth between 80m below sea level and 100m below sea level.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Northern North Sea

 

Site boundary description

The MPA boundary reflects the entirety of the predicted extent of a patch of offshore deep-sea muds which has been verified by existing British Geological Survey (BGS) and Marine Scotland Science survey data along the southern and western boundary, and seabed habitats considered appropriate to harbour ocean quahog aggregations.

 

Evidence

 

Last updated: June 2017

 

The full overview of the range of data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA Data Confidence Assessment. JNCC will be adding relevant data for this MPA to the JNCC MPA mapper when it becomes available. Some of the data for this MPA has been collected through a JNCC funded survey. Data from this survey will provide evidence to confirm the presence of the protected features within the site. Other data available for this MPA have been generated through JNCC collection of third-party data and use of predictive seabed habitat mapping information. These data provide direct evidence supporting the presence of the protected features within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

  • East of Gannet and Montrose Fields and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain seabed monitoring survey (2015) - This survey was a collaboration between JNCC and Marine Scotland Science. Video, grabs and camera  imagery were collected to form the first point in a monitoring time-series, allowing JNCC to monitor the rate and direction of long-term change in ocean quahog aggregations and offshore deep sea mud communities.
  • Further evidence that supports our understanding of sediment type in the site has been derived from Particle Size Analysis data that has been sourced from partner organisations, including the British Geological Survey. Operators connected to the oil and gas industry in the Northern North Sea have provided data that supports the presence of ocean quahog aggregations and offshore deep sea muds within the MPA boundary.

 

Data analysis reports

  • Cruise Report from the East of Gannet and Montrose Fields and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain monitoring survey (2016) - This report details the preliminary field observations of the seabed monitoring survey of East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain NCMPA conducted by JNCC and Marine Scotland Science. These observations have not been quality assured and so have not been used to support the presence and extent of ocean quahog aggregations and offshore deep sea mud. Data analysis and reporting is currently underway for the final report and this will be made available when complete.
  • EUSeaMap (2016) - Provides supporting information on the presence and extent of offshore subtidal sands and gravels from a predictive seabed habitat map of European waters.

 

Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the Data Confidence Assessment. Please be aware that although these sources contain information in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.

 

Knowledge gaps

If you are aware of any additional information not referred to in any of the Relevant Documentation listed on the main page, please contact JNCC

 

Conservation Advice

Last updated: December 2017

 

The formal conservation advice for this site is available in the Designation Order.

 

You must refer to this advice if you:

  • undertake a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) for a plan or project that could impact the site
  • provide information for a HRA
  • respond to specific measures to prevent the deterioration of habitats and significant disturbances of features
  • consider the need to put new or additional management measures in place

 

You may also find it useful to refer to this advice if you:

  • carry out any other activity that could impact the site

 

Updated draft conservation advice is also now available for this site which can be downloaded as a zip file or accessed via the links in the following table. Further information on the approach used to develop this advice is available on the Conservation Advice webpage.  This draft conservation advice is currently subject to a 6 week period of comment [13th December 2017-24th January 2018].  JNCC are seeking views from stakeholders via a short survey online by midnight 24th January 2018.

Following sign-off, the package will become our formal conservation advice for this site, replacing the existing advice available in the Designation Order. This draft advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by JNCC (correct as of December 2017).

The following table provides an overview of the components of the draft advice, and provides hyperlinks to each of the draft products for this MPA.  These elements form JNCC’s draft conservation advice for this site and should be read in conjunction with each other. The entire package can be downloaded by clicking on the link below the table. 

 

Document Overview
Background Information Explains the purpose of the advice and when it must be referred to.
Conservation Objectives

 

Draft Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO)

The Conservation Objectives set out the broad ecological aims for the site. JNCC provide draft supplementary advice in the SACO which is essential reading to support interpretation of these conservation objectives. It provides further detail and site-specific information for each feature within the site including which of the attributes need to be conserved and which ones recovered.

 

You can use these documents to assess the impacts of your planned activity on the important attributes of the site.
Draft Conservation Advice Statements

These draft statements provide a summary of the draft Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO).

 

  • Site condition presents our up to date understanding of the condition of features within the site;
  • Conservation benefits which the site can provide, these help you understand what is important about the site and why it needs protecting; and
  • Conservation measures which JNCC consider are needed to support achievement of the conservation objectives. These provide clarity around measures needed to support restoration or maintenance of the feature(s) within the site.
Advice on Operations

Provides information on the activities capable of affecting site integrity and therefore achievement of the site’s conservation objectives.

 

This is a starting point for determining potential management requirements. It does not take into account the intensity, frequency or cumulative impacts from activities taking place. It is simply to advise you of the possible adverse impacts that your activity can have on a MPA’s features.

 

Use the advice on operations to determine those pressures your activity causes that could harm the habitat and/or species features of the site.


 

Download

 

You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.

 

Activities and Manageament

 

Last updated: April 2017

 

Management status: Progressing towards being well managed

 

Progress is ongoing with the recommendation for fisheries management proposals to the European Commission and ongoing site condition monitoring work will be required in order to conclude with confidence as to the degree to which the site is moving towards or achieving is conservation objectives.

 

This site forms part of the UKs contribution to the OSPAR commission’s network of MPAs and the Emerald network established under the Bern Convention. As the UK is a member of the OSPAR commission, JNCC are committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is ‘well-managed’ by 2020.

 

JNCC consider ‘well-managed’ to mean the timely progress of an MPA around the ‘MPA management cycle’. This involves:

  1. The documentation of appropriate management information - conservation objectives, advice on activities capable of affecting the protected features of a site, and spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of a site.
  2. The implementation of management measures - management actions considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of a site.
  3. Site condition monitoring programmes – collecting the information necessary to determine progress towards a sites conservation objectives.
  4. Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives – using available information to infer whether or not a site is moving towards or has achieved its conservation objectives.

 

The sub-sections that follow provide an account of the progress of East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA around each of these four stages in the MPA management cycle:

 

The documentation of appropriate management information

  • The conservation objectives and advice on activities capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected feature of this site are available under the conservation advice tab.
  • JNCC are in the process of improving our MPA conservation advice packages. Further information is available on our conservation advice pages.
  • Spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected feature of this MPA is available via JNCCs MPA mapper.
  • JNCC are in the process of developing downloadable MPA data packages where appropriate permissions to share datasets are in place.

 

The implementation of management measures

This section details progress towards the implementation of management measures for activities considered capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected features of the site. The protected features of the site are considered to be sensitive to pressures associated with fishing and ‘licensable’ activities.

 

Fisheries

  • There is evidence of mobile demersal fishing and some pelagic fishing within the MPA and UK and non-UK registered vessels have been active in the area.
  • The site falls outside the UKs 12 nautical mile limit and is to be exclusively managed under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In accordance with Article 18 of the revised CFP, requests for management will be developed jointly between the UK Government and any Member States with a direct management interest in the area affected.
  • Marine Scotland are the lead authority regarding the implementation of, and compliance with, any measures to managing fishing activity. Further information on progress is available via Marine Scotland’s web pages.

 

Licensable activities

  • A considerable number of oil and gas development are currently within the MPA, and the MPA overlaps with a number of license blocks identified by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (formally the Department of Energy and Climate Change)and so may be subject to further oil and gas development in the future. 
  • Licensable activities such as oil and gas exploration and production taking place or that may take place within this MPA are managed in accordance with the clauses set out under section 126 of The Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009). Under this clause, JNCC have a statutory responsibility to advise the regulator on developments that are capable of affecting (other than insignificantly) the protected features of the MPA and that may hinder the achievement of the sites conservation objectives. JNCC consider the existing marine licensing process is sufficient to ensure the management of licensable activities taking place, or that could take place in the future, on the protected features of this MPA.
  • For further information, see Marine Scotland’s draft MPA management handbook and Marine Scotland’s guidance for marine license applications
  • Further information on JNCCs role in the provision of advice for licensed activities in the UK offshore area is available on JNCCs offshore industries advice webpage

 

Site condition monitoring

A monitoring survey of the MPA took place in 2015. Data was collected to form the first point in a monitoring time-series, allowing for the assessment of the rate and direction of long-term change in ocean quahog aggregations and offshore deep-sea mud habitat. Further information is provided in the monitoring tab and the survey cruise report (O’Connor 2016).

 

Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives

No long-term condition monitoring data is available to determine whether the MPA is moving towards or has reached its conservation objectives. Further information will be provided under the assessment tab as it becomes available.

 

Monitoring

 

Last updated: February 2017

 

JNCC is currently leading on the development of a strategy for biodiversity monitoring across all UK waters, to include MPA monitoring. For MPAs, data and evidence collected from monitoring activities will aim to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Enable assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required.

 

Information on monitoring of this MPA will be provided when it becomes available.

 

Assessment

 

Last updated: February 2017

 

Assessments of the condition of designated features in offshore MPAs are required to report against our legal obligations. Ideally these assessments should be based on observed data, and then measured against targets for predefined indicators. However, for MPAs in offshore waters we do not always have the appropriate information to be able to do so. This is particularly true for seabed habitats, which are the main type of feature designated for protection in offshore MPAs. 

 

To address these challenges, JNCC has been an active partner in the development of new approaches and tools for the assessment of habitats and species for a variety of national and international status reports. They include the second cycle of the Conservation Status Assessment reports under the EU Habitats Directive, Charting Progress 2 (CP2) and the OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR). JNCC continues to develop and pilot tools for the assessment of marine habitats and species in offshore waters to improve the quality and transparency of our offshore MPA assessments, and contribute to the monitoring of marine biodiversity in UK waters. These tools cover methods for producing interim assessments of site features and their responses to pressures, as well as developing more robust indicators for determining condition of the features.

 

Under the UK Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009), JNCC is required to report to Ministers on the degree to which the conservation objectives of the protected features of Nature Conservation MPAs (NCMPAs) have been achieved.  Every 6 years from 2012, the Marine Act requires a report setting out how NCMPAs have performed against their conservation objectives, as well as the effectiveness of the network as a whole. 

 

The assessments of features within MPAs will also feed into six yearly reports on the state of the marine environment under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.

 

 

Image Gallery

These images show examples of features that are present in East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA.