Bassurelle Sandbank MPA

 

Status: Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

 

 

Click to link to the interactive map

Located in the Dover Straight and straddling the boundary between UK and French waters, the Bassurelle Sandbank is an open shelf ridge sandbank formed by tidal currents.

 

Sand waves and megaripples of up to 2.5m in height are abundant on parts of the bank. The biological communities present are dominated by polychaete worms, which are typical of sandy sediments.

 

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: 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 Objective
1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time Annex I Habitat*

Restore to favourable condition

*For the latest Annex I habitat resource figures, please see the link to the latest Habitats Directive Article 17 reporting in the Assessment tab.

 

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. Information on the conservation objectives relating to this SAC 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 Bassurelle Sandbank.  More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation below.

Bassurelle Sandbank SAC designation timeline


Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Bassurelle Sandbank were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.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.

 



Summary

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Information for this site summary was adapted from the SAC Selection Assessment Document and incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced. Please refer to this document in the relevant documentation section for further details and information sources.

 

Site overview

The Bassurelle Sandbank is a linear sandbank in the Dover Strait which straddles the boundary between UK and French waters. The part of the sandbank within UK waters is approximately 2.5km at its widest point, and has a maximum height of around 15m. It extends for about 15km in a north east to south west direction to the UK-France median line, and then continues for some distance into French waters.

The sandbank is comprised of a mixture of sand and gravelly sand, with shell and gravel visible at the surface. Although the surrounding seabed is also predominantly sandy, Bassurelle Sandbank is distinct due to the thickness of the sediment (up to 25m thick) and the elevation above the surrounding area. The surface tidal currents along the bank are weak to moderately strong (peak spring surface current velocity of 0.7 m/s), and run along the direction of the sandbank.

Areas of fine sand within the site have an infaunal community dominated by polychaete worms, including species such as Lagis koreni and Spiophanes bombyx, and the bivalves Moerella pygmaea (little tellin) and Ensis sp. (razorshell). In places on Bassurelle Sandbank, and on the margin of the wider sandwave field, the sediment is slightly more gravelly and shelly, with the coarser sediment often collecting in the troughs between sandwaves. In these areas, a slightly different infaunal community of polychaete worms is found.

The epifaunal community present on the Bassurelle Sandbank is typical of a sand and gravelly sand habitat. On the bank itself, the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus was observed, as was the brittlestar Ophiura spp. and the hydroid Hydrallmania falcata, which was observed attached to shell and gravel fragments. The sand eel (Ammodytes tobianus) and weever fish (Echiichthys) were characteristically present, although these were absent from the sandy areas surrounding the bank. The region is a nursery area for lemon sole, mackerel and sand eel and a spawning area for cod, lemon sole, sole, plaice, sand eel and sprat.

This site is adjacent to the Ridens et dunes hydrauliques du Detroit du Pas de Calais SAC in French waters.

Further detail on the evidence for this SAC can be found on the Evidence tab.

 

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

Site area:  67 km2

Site depth range:  8m below sea level on the top of the bank feature, down to 140m below sea level at its base.

Charting Progress 2 biogeographic region - Eastern English Channel.

 

Site boundary description

The proposed boundary is a simple polygon enclosing the minimum area necessary to ensure protection of the Annex I habitat, following the extent of the habitat feature as closely as possible. The boundary has been drawn to closely follow the 30m contour, which appears (from Admiralty Charts and recent survey data) to correspond with the extent of the sandbank. The southern boundary has also been aligned with the proposed boundary of the Ridens et dunes hydrauliques du Detroit du Pas de Calais SAC (Megaripples and hydraulic dunes in the Pas-de-Calais/Dover Strait). The site encompasses a number of different sandbanks in French waters, including the remainder of Bassurelle Sandbank. No margin to allow for mobile gear was applied to Bassurelle Sandbank SAC given the shallow water depth at this site and the lack of a precise feature edge from which to add a margin.

 

Evidence

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

There is a range of data that underpin this SAC. 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 Bassurelle Sandbank SAC Selection Assessment Document. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to our MPA interactive map in due course. Some of the data for this SAC has been collected through JNCC funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means.  Data from these surveys/this survey provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

  • Offshore seabed survey of Bassurelle Sandbank SAC (2017) - A dedicated multidisciplinary survey of the Bassurelle Sandbank SAC was conducted in July 2017. The principal aim of the survey was to collect additional information to increase current knowledge of the distribution and heterogeneity of benthic habitats and communities present, to assist the development of future management advice and plans.
  • Bassurelle Sandbank offshore seabed survey  (2013) - JNCC commissioned the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to undertake an offshore seabed survey of Bassurelle sandbank SAC. High resolution multi-beam, video and grabs were collected, providing further acoustic ground-truthing data for the site. The outputs include an assessment of the biological communities associated with the site. 
  • The Eastern English Channel Marine Habitat Map (2007) - James et al., (2007) Cefas Science Series Technical Report 139. JNCC collaborated in this survey of the Eastern English Channel conducted two geophysical and one two biological surveys between 2005 and 2006. The survey extent only covers half of the UK portion of Bassurelle sandbank with the remainder of the bank within UK waters lying outside of the survey area.

 

Additional relevant literature

Please be aware that although these sources contain information in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC:

  • Eastwood, PD., Mills, CM., Aldridge, JN., Houghton, CA. and Rogers, SI. (2007). Human activities in UK offshore waters: an assessment of direct, physical pressure on the seabed. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64: 453-463.

 

Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional data or relevant scientific papers for this site not listed in the Relevant Documentation or the Bassurelle Sandbank Selection Assessment Document listed in the relevant documents section, please contact JNCC.

 

Conservation Advice

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Conservation objectives

Conservation objectives set out the desired state for the protected feature(s) of an MPA. The conservation objectives for the protected feature of the Bassurelle Sandbank SAC 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 Bassurelle Sandbank, 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; and/or
  • developing, proposing or assessing an activity, plan or project that may affect the site.


The conservation objective for the protected feature of the MPA is:

Subject to natural change, restore the sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time to favourable condition, such that the:

  • The natural environmental quality, natural environmental processes and extent are maintained; and
  • The physical structure, diversity, community structure and typical species, representative of sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time in the Eastern English Channel 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 Bassurelle Sandbank SAC 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 on JNCC’s conservation advice work is available via our offshore MPA conservation advice webpage

 

Activities and Management

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Management status: Progressing towards being well managed

 

Progress is ongoing with the recommendation of fisheries management proposals to the European Commission. A research and development monitoring survey will be undertaken in 2017 to improve our understanding as to 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.

 

This site forms part of the UK's 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 Bassurelle Sandbank SAC 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 to be sensitive to pressures associated with fishing and ‘licensable’ activities.

 

Fisheries

  • There is evidence of mobile demersal effort within the MPA and UK and non-UK registered vessels active in the area.
  • The site falls outside the UK's 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.
  • The Marine Management Organisation are the lead authority regarding the implementation of, and compliance with, any measures to managing fishing activity. Further information on progress is available via MMO’s web pages.

 

Licensable activities

  • Whilst ‘licensable’ activities such as oil and gas exploration and production do not take place within Bassurelle Sandbank SAC at present, any future proposals would have to comply with Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive 1992, which is transposed into UK law by the offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats& c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended).
  • Our conservation advice supports the consents process by setting out the conservation objectives for the protected feature of this MPA and advice on activities that may result in pressures to which the protected feature is considered sensitive.
  • 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

Site condition monitoring
A baseline condition monitoring survey for this MPA was undertaken in Spring 2017. The results of this survey are not yet available. Further information will be made available under the monitoring tab in due course.

 

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. The site has a ‘restore’ conservation objective based on the findings of a vulnerability assessment (exposure the activities associated with pressures to which the protected features of the site are considered sensitive). 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 (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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