Marine Sensitivity Assessments

 

The advice we give regarding the effects of activities on our seas and oceans varies depending on both the activity itself and its location. Advice is influenced by which habitats and species are in the area concerned and the way they will interact with the activity. How an activity impacts on a species or habitat can be assessed by looking at the different characteristics of the species on their own, within a group, or within a habitat. For example, are the species soft in the body, long-lived or slow to reproduce? For more information on how species characteristics influence their sensitivity to activities, see Marlin’s Biological Traits Information Catalogue (BIOTIC).  

 

We can investigate how likely it would be that an activity would affect a species or habitat by determining the amount of damage that it is tolerant to, known as the resistance of the species, and how quickly it is able to recover from disturbance, otherwise known as resilience. We call this process a Sensitivity Assessment, if you wish to read an example of a Sensitivity Assessment you can view one of  our reports

 

Sensitivity Assessments are a common approach used by those who need to determine the potential effects different activities may have on marine biodiversity. Due to the lack of location-specific information in the assessment, considered on their own they remain conceptual and will have many limitations. However, they are useful building blocks in a more detailed assessment, called a Vulnerability Assessment. Vulnerability Assessments use the Sensitivity Assessment of a species or habitat but also take into consideration further information such as the physical extent (footprint), length of time, and frequency of an activity. These assessments can then be tailored to a specific occurrence of an activity or in a specific area, such as a Marine Protected Area or Regional Sea.    

 

It is important to us that the work we do is available to others; we have been working to update and increase the number of reports on the possible effects of marine activities. Our latest reports are available below.

 

Some of our latest work with sensitivity assessments....

 

Phase 1 Report JNCC Report No 512A: Rationale and proposed ecological groups for level 5 biotopes against which sensitivity assessments would be best undertaken (2014)

 

Phase 2 Report 512B: Literature review and sensitivity assessment for ecological groups for circalittoral and offshore level 5 biotopes (2014)

JNCC commissioned this project to generate an improved understanding of the sensitivities of subtidal sedimentary habitats, found in UK waters, to pressures associated with human activities in the marine environment. This work will contribute to supporting management advice provided for Marine Protected Areas, as well as UK marine monitoring and assessment work.

 

JNCC Report 506: Assessing the sensitivity of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) to pressures associated with human activities (2014)

JNCC commissioned this project to generate an improved understanding of the sensitivities of blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds, found in UK waters, to pressures associated with human activities in the marine environment. The work will provide an evidence base that will facilitate and support management advice for Marine Protected Areas, development of UK marine monitoring and assessment, and conservation advice to marine industries.

 

JNCC Report 505: Assessing the sensitivity of seagrass bed biotopes to pressures associated with human activities (2014)

This project was commissioned to generate an improved understanding of the sensitivities of seagrass habitats to pressures associated with human activities in the marine environment - to provide an evidence base to facilitate and support management advice for Marine Protected Areas; development of UK marine monitoring and assessment, and conservation advice to marine industries.

 

JNCC Report 504: Assessing the sensitivity of Sabellaria spinulosa reef biotopes to pressures associated with human activities (2014)

JNCC commissioned this project to generate an improved understanding of the sensitivities of Sabellaria spinulosa reefs based on the OSPAR habitat definition. This work aimed to provide an evidence base to facilitate and support management advice for Marine Protected Areas, development of UK marine monitoring and assessment, and conservation advice to marine industries.

 

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