Anton Dohrn Seamount MPA


Status: Candidate Special Area of Conservation and Site of Community Importance (cSAC/SCI)



Anton Dohrn Seamount is situated 230 km west of the Outer Hebrides, to the west of Scotland. The seamount is an extinct volcano with steep sides and a relatively flat top that is approximately 40km in diameter.


The seamount hosts a range of Annex I reef sub-types, including bedrock reef in the upper regions of the seamount and stony reefs on the lower flanks. In addition, there are biogenic cold-water coral reefs present along the edge of the seamount cliffs and on smaller volcanic structures called parasitic cones at the base of the seamount. The bedrock reefs, and the stony reefs further down the flanks, support a diverse range of species including sea cucumbers, brittlestars, corals and sponges. At the bottom of the flanks of the seamount, the stony reef gives way to finer gravels, which are colonised by many large single-celled organisms, known as xenophyophores. The biogenic reefs are interspersed with dense aggregations of corals typical in places of the OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining habitat known as ‘coral gardens’, as well as sponges, sea urchins and sea lilies.

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

Click to link to the interactive map

Map displaying the MPA boundary

View and download spatial data for this MPA

on the JNCC UK MPA interactive map.


Legislation behind the designation: EU Habitats Directive 1992 transposed into UK law by the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended)


Protected Features:

Features Feature Type    Conservation Objectives
          1170 Reefs         Annex I habitat


to Favourable Condition


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 cSAC/SCI 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 Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI.  More detail can be found within the relevant documentation listed below.

Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI timeline

Relevant documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI 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 SAC site selection process is available on the JNCC SAC pages.



Site overview

Anton Dohrn Seamount is located to the west of Scotland, about 200km from the Outer Hebrides in the Rockall Trough, a deep water channel in the North-east Atlantic. The seamount is a former volcano, roughly circular in shape, and was last active 40 – 70 million years ago. The top is fairly uniform in depth (at 1100m) and is surrounded by steep cliff slopes extending down towards a moat at ~2400m water depth. The seamount is approximately 1800m high from the deepest point of the moat to the crest of the feature, and about 40km in diameter. On the lower flanks, parasitic cones occur that were formed when volcanic material erupted from lateral fractures rather than the central vent.

The site contains a series of bedrock, stony and biogenic reefs – sub-types of Annex I reef. The upper regions of the seamount flanks are bedrock reef grading to stony reef on the lower flanks. These habitats support assemblages of sea cucumbers, brittlestars, cup corals and sponges. At the base of the seamount flanks, bedrock and stony reef outcrop on ridges, extending radially from the centre of the seamount, and on parasitic cones. In places, both these features support dense aggregations of sea whips (or sea fans) and other corals, in communities known as ‘coral gardens’ – an OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining habitat. Also present is biogenic reef formed from Lophelia pertusa and Solenosmilia variabilis cold-water corals. This structurally complex habitat supports a diverse and unique range of fauna, including black corals, sea whips, soft corals and stony corals.

Within the Rockall Trough and Bank Regional Sea, where Anton Dohrn Seamount is situated, there are three other SACs designated for the presence of Annex I reef: Darwin Mounds cSAC/SCI, North West Rockall Bank cSAC/SCI and East Rockall Bank cSAC/SCI. Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI provides the only example of a mixture of stony, bedrock and biogenic reef subtypes on a seamount. Recommendation of all these sites within the same Regional Sea is justified partly because of the differences between the reef types at each site (structure and associated communities) to ensure the variation of types is represented in the network of SACs, and partly to ensure sufficient proportion of the total UK resource of reef is included within the UK SAC network.

Further detail on the evidence for this cSAC/SCI can be found on the Evidence tab.

Site location:  Coordinates for this cSAC/SCI can be found in the Natura 2000 Standard Data Form listed in the Relevant Documentation.

Site area: 1429 km2

Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI covers a similar area to the Peak District National Park (1437 km2)

Site depth range:  From the summit of the seamount 760m below sea level, the flanks descend to approximately 2400m below sea level at the base of the seamount.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Atlantic North-West Approaches, Rockall Trough and the Faeroe/Shetland Channel

Site boundary description
The boundary is a relatively simple polygon enclosing the minimum area necessary to ensure protection of the Annex I habitat. The cSAC boundary has been drawn in a ring shape that incorporates the Annex I habitats on the cliff edge, seamount flanks, radial ridges and parasitic cones. It excludes the central summit of the seamount, which comprises mostly sands and gravels, in order to reduce the area of ‘non-Annex I’ feature within the site boundary. As bottom trawling could threaten the Annex I reef feature, the site boundary includes a margin to allow for the mobile gear on the seabed being some distance from the vessel.  The Annex I features at the foot of the seamount slope are situated at a maximum of 2000m water depth. Assuming a ration of 2:1 fishing warp length to depth on the continental shelf, the outer extent of the boundary is defined to include a margin of approximately 4000m from the reef features. The Annex I features at the summit edge are located at approximately 1000m water depth. The inner extent of the boundary, therefore, includes a margin of approximately 2000m from the reef feature.

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



Site specific data

There is a range of data that underpin this cSAC/SCI. 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 Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI Selection Assessment Document.

JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to the JNCC MPA mapper in due course.

Some of the data for this cSAC/SCI 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 features within the site.

Survey and data gathering


Data analysis reports

Analyses of data gathered as part of the surveys listed above, as well as other relevant data analysis products, are available via the following reports:

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the Selection Assessment Document.

Additional relevant literature

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:

  • Davies J.S., Stewart H.A., Narayanaswamy B.E., Jacobs C., Spicer J., Golding N. and Howell K.L. (2015) Benthic Assemblages of the Anton Dohrn Seamount (NE Atlantic): Defining Deep-Sea Biotopes to Support Habitat Mapping and Management Efforts with a Focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0124815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124815.

Analysis of still images and video ground truthing identified 13 biological communities (biotopes) on the flanks of Anton Dohrn Seamount that can be applied in habitat mapping.

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



MPA Conservation Advice

Conservation Objectives

Conservation objectives set out the desired state for the protected feature of an MPA. The conservation objectives for the protected feature of the Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI has been set based on knowledge of the condition of the protected feature at the time of writing. Further information on feature condition and conservation objectives is provided in the Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI Conservation objectives and advice on operations document.

This information is useful if you are:

  • preparing Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRAs) of proposed plans or projects that may affect the site;
  • planning measures to maintain or restore the site and its qualifying features;
  • monitoring the condition of the qualifying features; or
  • developing, proposing or assessing an activity, plan or project that may affect the site.

The Conservation Objective for the Annex I reef at Anton Dohrn Seamount is:

Subject to natural change, restore the bedrock, stony and biogenic reefs back to favourable condition, such that:

  • The natural environmental quality is restored
  • The natural environmental processes are maintained;
  • The extent, physical structure, diversity, community structure and typical species representative of bedrock, biogenic and stony reef in the Rockall Bank and Trough Regional Sea are restored.

JNCC is working to provide more detailed advice on the relatively broad, high level conservation objective listed above. This supplementary advice will be posted here as and when it becomes available.

Advice on operations
In line with Regulation (18) of the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended) which apply to the UK’s offshore marine area. the advice on operations for the protected feature of the Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI outline current knowledge of the nature and extent of activities taking place which may have a significant impact on the feature for which a site has been selected.

The advice on operations is based on JNCC’s scientific knowledge of the biological communities present at the time of writing and their sensitivities to pressures. For the most up-to-date information about the biological communities present within the site and their spatial distribution, please see the evidence tab. Sensitivity information for biological communities identified within the site can also be found on MarLIN’s website.

JNCC also provides a list of activities occurring within the site and information on activity management in the activities and management tab. This information is also useful when assessing an activity, plan or project which may affect the protected features and JNCC has provided this to aid the cumulative assessment of impacts of human activities within the site. While every attempt has been made to ensure this information is accurate and kept up-to-date, the list is not to be considered exhaustive or definitive. The list does not, for example, include activities occurring off-site which may also be capable of affecting the protected features.  

The information contained within the advice on operations, activities and management tab, evidence tab, and MarLIN’s sensitivity assessments are useful if you are:

  • Carrying out any activity that may impact 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 site, its integrity and its qualifying features and how activities can affect them may change over time. JNCC’s conservation advice will be kept under review and will be periodically updated to reflect this and surveillance required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. Conservation advice for sites which straddle the 12nm boundary will continue to be developed jointly with the relevant country nature conservation body. Further information is available via the offshore MPA conservation advice webpage.



Activities known to be currently occurring within this MPA

(Activities information correct as of December 2013)


  • Demersal fishing occurs over the seamount with the majority focussed on the softer substrate at the on the summit.  Evidence of trawling has been located at the edges of the summit and evidence of gill netting and long-lining suggests these methods occur in the site, but it is not possible to determine the level of effort. Species of commercial interest known to be present at the site include orange roughy1 and roundnose grenadier.

No fisheries management measures have yet been put in place to protect the designated features of this site but Marine Scotland is currently leading a work programme, with support from JNCC, to identify appropriate management measures. This site falls outside the UK’s 12 nautical mile limit and so fisheries management measures, if required, will be implemented through the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Government is aiming for this site to be appropriately managed by 2016. In 2011, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advised the EU that indicator species for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) are present on the seamount, and recommended an area that should be closed to all bottom contacting fishing gears to protect these VMEs. At present, the EU has not implemented this advice.

Marine Scotland is leading discussions with stakeholders regarding the development of fisheries management for MPAs on a regional basis. A workshop involving national and international stakeholders was held for the north and west of Scotland sites in April 2014.  The workshop was attended by fishermen and industry representatives from the UK and France and environmental NGOs. A Fisheries Options Paper to support these discussions was prepared by JNCC and presented at the workshop. Following further engagement with stakeholders, Marine Scotland will draw up management proposals which then will be submitted to a regional group of EU Member States with a direct management interest in the area for development as a joint proposal to the European Commission.

Other activities:

  • ShippingThere is a radio calling in point present in the site boundary and parts of the site may be crossed by ships.

Under international law, ships have a rite of passage at sea including in areas designated as MPAs (unless management specifies the restriction of ship transiting as outlined through an International Maritime Organisation measure).  The pressures associated with shipping activity within Anton Dohrn Seamount cSAC/SCI are not considered likely to impact the protected features of the site.


Site management

Management Plan: JNCC is undertaking a review of management plan requirements for offshore MPAs. Further detail will be provided at a later date.

For information on management actions being taken forward for this site, please go to Marine Scotland’s Fisheries Management in Offshore SACs webpage

Management Group: None at present

Further information on activities and feature sensitivity to these pressures can be found under the Conservation Advice tab.


1Although note that there is now a zero Total Allowable Catch (TAC) on the species across the North-East Atlantic (ICES Division Area VI) since 2003, which has effectively ended the fishery in this region (ICES 2014)



MPA Monitoring

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.


MPA Assessment

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.

Every six years, Member States are required under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive to report on the Conservation Status of Annex I habitats and Annex II species on the Habitats Directive.  The assessments should consider the habitat or species both within the Natura 2000 network and in the wider sea.  The latest report was submitted by the UK in 2013 and provided a second assessment of the conservation status of relevant habitats and species within UK marine waters during 2007-2012. The next report is for the period 2013-2018 and is due in 2019; information on the condition of features within SACs will make a contribution to this report. 

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.




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