Turbot Bank MPA

 

Status: Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area (NCMPA)

 

Turbot Bank MPA is located off the east coast of Scotland and lies within an area of sandy sediment, including part of the shelf bank and mound feature known as ‘Turbot Bank’.


Turbot Bank is important for sandeels which are closely associated with sand habitats, living buried in the sand for months at a time. The Turbot Bank MPA encompasses areas where high numbers of sandeels have been found. Sandeels play an important role in the wider North Sea ecosystem, providing a vital source of food for larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Turbot Bank has the potential to act as a source of young sandeels for maintaining and restocking surrounding areas.

 

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
Sandeels Mobile 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 Turbot Bank. More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation.


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Turbot Bank were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.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: October 2017

 

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

 

Site overview
The Turbot Bank MPA is located to the south-west of the Fladen Grounds in the northern North Sea, 44km east of Peterhead on the east coast of Scotland. The MPA lies within an area of sandy sediment and includes the shelf bank and mound feature known as ‘Turbot Bank’.

 

Turbot Bank is important for sandeels, particularly Raitt’s sand eel Ammodytes marinus, which is closely associated with sand habitats, living buried in the sand for months at a time. The site contains the type of sandy sediment with low silt and clay components that sandeels prefer. The sandeels present within Turbot Bank are an important component of the larger sandeel population in the northern North Sea.

 

Sandeels are a commercially important fish and regularly school together in large aggregations. Sandeel numbers have varied over the last several decades, apparently due to a mixture of historic overfishing and changes in food supply. Fishing effort at the site has reduced in recent times and catch allowances remain limited in this part of the North Sea. This, combined with sandeels’ relatively short lifespan, suggests that the population at Turbot Bank may now be close to its natural age and size composition.

 

Sandeels play an important role in the wider North Sea ecosystem, providing a vital source of food for seabirds such as Atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica and black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, fish such as plaice Pleuronectes platessa and marine mammals such as dolphins. Conserving Turbot Bank will help to sustain this ecosystem service and maintain its potential to act as a source of young sandeels (larvae) for surrounding areas, most likely to the east and south of the site based on current prevailing patterns. 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:  251 km2

Site depth range: Depth at the site ranges from 60m below sea level on top of the Turbot Bank shelf bank and mound feature down to 80m on the margins of the bank.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Northern North Sea.

 

Site boundary description
The boundary of the MPA has been drawn to focus on the sample records of relatively high sandeel density together with areas of sediment considered suitable for sandeel colonisation in the vicinity of Turbot Bank. The boundary to the west reflects the full extent of the Turbot Bank shelf bank and mound feature based on interpretation of acoustic data. The edge of the bank is included because sandeels are reported to aggregate into dense schools in these areas.

Evidence

 

Last updated: February 2017

 

The full overview of the data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the Turbot Bank NCMPA Data Confidence Assessment. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data to our MPA interactive map in due course. Some of the data for this NCMPA has been collected through JNCC funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means. Data from these surveys provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected feature within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

  • Cruise report for the 2012 offshore seabed survey of Turbot Bank possible MPA (2017) - This cruise report summarises operations and initial observations made on board the RV Cefas Endeavour during the cruise CEND19x/12 on behalf of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The survey took place between 17th November and 1st December 2012. The aim was to gather additional evidence to support the development of fisheries management measures and develop a baseline for future site monitoring.
  • East-coast sandeel dredge surveys (2008-2011) - Several dredge surveys were conducted in the area over a four-year period by Marine Scotland Science. Thirty-three records of sandeel abundance were taken from the central and eastern parts of the site, showing an average catch per unit effort of 99 sandeels, but up to 285 individuals.

 

Data analysis reports

  • Offshore seabed survey of Turbot Bank possible MPA - Analysis of acoustic and ground truthing data is underway for the 2012 survey mentioned above. The analysis is examining the presence and extent of seabed habitats and their suitability for settling sandeels. Reporting will be made available in due course.
  • Sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) larval transport patterns in the North Sea (2008) - Young sandeel transport in the North Sea was modelled by Christensen et al. (2008) considering local physical conditions. The models for 1974-2004 suggest that sandeel larvae from Turbot Bank travel to settling grounds to the east, south-east and, to a lesser extent, to the south.
  • The influence of sediment type on the distribution of the lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus (2000) - Particle Size Analysis data from British Geological Survey samples collected in the area between 1973 and 1980 were analysed by Wright et al. (2000) to assess suitability for sandeel colonisation. Six of eight records from the site were considered suitable for sandeels; these occurred in the south-west and eastern area of the site.
  • Modelling the transport of larval sandeels on the north-west European shelf  (1998) - Young sandeel transport in the North Sea was predicted by Proctor et al. (1998) using data on sandeel spawning locations, age and hatching time combined with a model of ocean currents over a 39-year period. The study showed that sandeel larvae from Turbot Bank may disperse widely across the North Sea.

 

Additional relevant literature
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 which is of interest in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.

  • Christensen, A., Jensen, H., Mosegaard, H., John, M.S. and Schrum, C. (2008). Sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) larval transport patterns in the North Sea from an individual-based hydrodynamic egg and larval model. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65 (7): 1498-1511.
  • Wright, P.J., Jensen, H. and Tuck, I. (2000). The influence of sediment type on the distribution of the lesser sandeel, Ammodytes marinus. Journal of Sea Research, 44 (3-4): 243-256.
  • Proctor, R., Wright, P.J. and Everitt, A. (1998). Modelling the transport of larval sandeels on the north-west European shelf. Fisheries Oceanography, 7 (3-4): 347-354.

 

Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional information not referred to in any of the Relevant Documentation, please contact JNCC.

 

Conservation Advice

 

Last updated: February 2017

 

Conservation objectives
Conservation objectives set out the desired state for the protected feature(s) of an MPA. As there is no direct evidence of damage to the sandeel protected feature within the Turbot Bank Nature Conservation MPA, the agreed policy approach states that such features should be allocated a conservation objective of ‘conserve in favourable condition’, noting that there is uncertainty in feature condition.

 

The conservation objectives for the protected features of the MPA are useful if you are:

  • Planning measures to conserve the site and its protected features;
  • Monitoring the condition of the protected features; or
  • Developing, proposing or assessing an activity, plan or project that may affect the protected features of the site.

 

The Conservation Objective for the sandeels protected feature of the MPA issubject to natural change, conserve sandeels in favourable condition, such that the:

  • Species is conserved to include the continued access by the species to resources provided by the MPA for, but not restricted to, feeding, courtship, spawning or use as nursery grounds;
  • Extent and distribution of any supporting features upon which the species is dependent is conserved; and
  • Structure and function of any supporting features, including any associated processes supporting the species within the MPA, is such as to ensure that the protected feature is in a condition which is healthy and not deteriorating.

 

More information regarding the conservation objective for the sandeel protected feature of the Turbot Bank MPA is available in the Designation Order. JNCC is working to provide more detailed advice on the relatively broad, high level conservation objectives for the features listed above. This supplementary advice will be posted here as and when it becomes available.

 

Advice on operations 

Section 127 of the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) states that JNCC may provide guidance regarding matters capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected features of a NCMPA. JNCC has contributed to the development of an online Features, Activities, Sensitivities Tool (FeAST), which is intended to help public authorities, industry and regulators determine which activities are capable of affecting the protected features of a MPA..

 

FeAST reflects our current high-level understanding of the interactions between activities, pressures and features within NCMPAs. The tool highlights that activities can give rise to a range of pressures, to which the protected features of the MPA may be sensitive and may therefore be capable of affecting them. JNCC and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have also produced more specific guidance on the impacts of different fishing gears on the protected features of Nature Conservation MPAs. These are available on the Fisheries Management Guidance Documents webpage. For more detailed sensitivity information on the communities that comprise the features within the site, please use the search function on the MarLIN webpage to access updated sensitivity assessments.

 

The activities taking place within the Turbot Bank MPA that are considered capable of affecting the protected features of the site are as follows and have been taken from the Management Options Paper for the site:

  • Oil and gas industry developments, including their ongoing use and maintenance; and
  • Specialised mesh trawling for sandeels .

 

JNCC provides a list of activities occurring within the site and information on activity management within the activities and management tab. JNCC has provided this to aid the cumulative assessment of impacts of human activities within the site. The information contained within FeAST, the fisheries management guidance, and the activities and management tab are useful if you are:

  • Carrying out any activity that may impact the protected features of the site and need to find out how to operate within the law
  • An authority providing advice on specific proposals
  • An authority responsible for putting management measures in place

 

Our scientific understanding of the ecology of the protected features of the site and how activities can affect them may change over time. Similarly the activities taking place within the site may also change over time. JNCC’s conservation advice will be kept under review and will be periodically updated to reflect this. Further information on JNCC’s conservation advice work is available via the offshore MPA conservation advice webpage.

 

Activities and Management

 

Last updated: March 2017

 

Management status: Progressing towards being well managed

 

Progress is ongoing with the recommendation of fisheries management proposals to Europe, but it is notable that only targeted sandeel fisheries are considered to represent a threat to the protected feature of this site (sandeels) and that such activity is not known to be currently taking place. There is no long-term condition monitoring information available with which to infer with confidence as to the degree to which the conservation objective for the site is being met.

 

This site forms part of the UKs contribution to the OSPAR commissions network of MPAs, Europe’s Natura 2000 network and the Emerald network established under the Bern Convention. As the UK is a signatory to 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 Turbot Bank NCMPA around each of the 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 JNCC’s 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 feature of the site. The protected feature of the site is considered sensitive to pressures associated with direct sandeel fishing and ‘licensable’ activities.

 

Fisheries

  • There is evidence of dredging, mobile demersal and pelagic gear effort by both UK and non-UK registered vessels in this MPA but there is no evidence of directed sandeel fishing.
  • The site sits within the Sandeel Area 4 management unit for which there is currently a very limited Total Allowable Catch for sandeels. In addition, a small area to the west of the MPA overlaps with the East of UK sandeel closure area which was introduced to prevent localised depletion of sandeels (Article 29a Council Regulation (EC) No 227/2013). A reduced fishery for scientific investigation is permitted within the closed area although this option has not been taken up in recent years.
  • 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

  • The site overlaps with one licensed oil and gas production area (known as a license 'block' as identified by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) and two, as-yet-unlicensed blocks. Therefore, the site may be subject to further oil and gas development in the future. Although oil and gas infrastructure occurs nearby to the site, there is currently no infrastructure inside the site itself.
  • 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 127 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 significantly affecting 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 feature 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 JNCC’s role in the provision of advice for licensed activities in the UK offshore area is available on JNCC’s offshore industries advice webpage

 

Shipping

  • There is low density of commercial shipping in this area and due to its offshore location, vessel anchorage is unlikely.
  • Under international law (UNCLOS, Article 17), ships have a right of innocent passage at sea, including in areas designated as MPAs. The pressures associated with shipping activity within the site are not considered likely to impact the protected feature.

 

Wrecks

  • One shipwreck has been identified in the site.

 

Site condition monitoring

No site condition monitoring surveys have been undertaken since its designation.

 

Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives

No long-term condition monitoring information is available to inform whether or not the site is moving towards or achieving its conservation objectives.

Further information will be provided under the assessment tab as it becomes available.

 

Monitoring

 

Last updated: October 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: October 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 and the OSPAR Quality Status Report. 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 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, which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020.

 

 

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