Farnes East MPA

 

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

 

 

Farnes East MCZ is a joint inshore and offshore site situated in the north east of England approximately 11 km from the Northumberland coast. The sea bed is predominantly composed of subtidal coarse sediment, subtidal sand and subtidal mixed sediments, with a scattering of small patches of moderately energy circalittoral rock. A glacial trench, which forms the deepest part of the MCZ, contains subtidal mud.

 

A diversity of species inhabit the sedimentary habitats across the site, including sponges, anemones, segmented worms and the bivalve mollusc; ocean quahog. Sea-pens and burrowing species such as
Norway lobster make their home within the mud habitat.

 

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

EUNIS Code: Protected Features Feature Type General Management Approach
(to achieve conservation objective)
A4.2 Moderate energy circalittoral rock Broad-Scale Habitat

Maintain in favourable condition

A5.1 Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-Scale Habitat

Maintain in favourable condition

A5.2 Subtidal sand Broad-Scale Habitat

Maintain in favourable condition

A5.3 Subtidal mud Broad-Scale Habitat

Recover to favourable condition

A5.4 Subtidal mixed sediments Broad-Scale Habitat

Maintain in favourable condition

Sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities Habitat Feature of Conservation Importance

Recover to favourable condition

Ocean quahog Species of Conservation Importance

Recover to 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 below.

 

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.


Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of Farnes East MCZ. More detail can be found within the relevant documentation listed below.


Relevant documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Farnes East MCZ 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. Further information about the Marine Conservation Zone site selection process and historic MCZ advice is available on the JNCC MCZ pages.

 

  • Farnes East MCZ Designation Order - The official prescription of the site designation under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The Designation Order includes boundary coordinates, Conservation Objectives and a list of the designated features.

 



Summary

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

The information for this site summary was adapted from Regional MCZ project report and documents listed in the Evidence tab.

 

Site overview
Farnes East MCZ is situated in the north east of England, approximately 11 km from the Northumberland coast. The sea bed is predominantly composed of various subtidal sediments. The shallower areas of the site, in the west, are dominated by subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal mixed sediments, while the eastern side is largely subtidal sand. A section of the Farnes Deep glacial trench occurs within the site boundary. The trench, which is the deepest part of the MCZ, contains subtidal mud.

 

All the subtidal sediment types found within Farnes East MCZ are listed as protected features. A diversity of species have been recorded inhabiting the sedimentary habitats across the site, including anemones, particularly Edwardsia claparedii and Cerianthus lloydii, segmented worms (e.g. Galathowenia oculata) and sponges. The sedimentary habitats in Farnes East MCZ also support Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica); a bivalve mollusc species that is slow growing and can live for over 100 years. Ocean quahog is an OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining species and a species Feature of Conservation Importance listed on the Ecological Network Guidance (ENG). Two species of sea-pen; slender sea-pen (Virgularia mirabilis) and phosphorescent sea-pen (Pennatula phosphorea) have been observed living on the mud habitat. Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) make their home within the deep mud habitat by constructing burrows, mainly emerging in the evening to feed. As a result, as well as being designated for the broad-scale habitat subtidal mud, the habitat feature of conservation importance; sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities, is also protected in Farnes East MCZ.

 

When Farnes East MCZ was first recommended by the Net Gain MCZ regional project in 2011, the best available evidence for the site indicated that over half the area consisted of moderate energy circalittoral rock, with the sedimentary habitats covering a much smaller proportion. Two Defra MB0120 surveys have visited the site since then. The evidence collected indicates that the MCZ is predominantly sedimentary, except for small patches of moderate energy circalittoral rock identified through the site. The rock habitat, which is included as a protected feature of Farnes East MCZ, supports species of hydroids, bryozoans and sponges. Further detail on the evidence for this MCZ can be found on the Evidence tab.

 

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

Site area:  945 km2, making it almost the size of Tyne and Wear at 538 km2.

Site depth range:  The depth at Farnes East MCZ ranges from 30 m to 100 m.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Northern North Sea.

 

Site boundary description
A section of the eastern boundary of the site follows the 6 nm line. The site boundary is completed with six additional straight lines in accordance with the Ecological Network Guidance (ENG). The site overlaps with two seasonal fisheries restrictions which prevent the retention of Sprat (Sprattus sprattus) from ICES statistical area 39E8 between 1st January to 31st March and during October each year, and further places restrictions on the retention of Herring (Clupea harengus) between 6 and 12 nautical miles between 25th August and 15th September each year. The boundary of Farnes East MCZ has not changed since the site was recommended by the Net Gain Regional MCZ Project in 2011.

 

Evidence

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

The full overview of the range of data used to support site identification along with information on the confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the pre-consultation and post-consultation advice for Tranche Two offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2016. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to our MPA interactive map in due course. Some of the data for this MCZ 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

  • Farnes East MCZ Verification Survey (2014) - A survey jointly run by Cefas and JNCC focussed on gathering groundtruth data on the rock feature and the habitat feature of conservation importance, peat and clay exposures, which was predicted to occur within Farnes East MCZ.
  • Farnes East MCZ Verification Survey (2012) - The survey was a collaboration between Cefas and JNCC to collect acoustic and groundtruth data to identify the presence and extent of broad-scale habitats and features of conservation importance within Farnes East MCZ.

 

Data analysis reports

  • British Geological Survey Hard Substrate Map - The interpretation of the BGS hard substrate maps was based on a variety of data sourced from within the British Geological Survey and externally. The map provides evidence for the presence of Moderate energy circalittoral rock within Farnes East MCZ.
  • British Geological Survey Seabed Sediments Data Points Map - Particle Size Analysis of historical data was used to identify habitat type and converted to the EUNIS broadscale habitats by JNCC. The data suggest subtidal coarse sediment, subtidal sand, subtidal mud and subtidal mixed sediments all occur within the site.
  • Community analysis of Farnes East MCZ data (2016) - JNCC contracted Envision Mapping Ltd to complete a community analysis of offshore MCZ grab and video data to establish biotopes. The following biotopes were recorded in Farnes East MCZ:

SS.SSa.CFiSa.EpusOborApri: Echinocyamus pusillus (pea urchin), Ophelia borealis (a bristle worm) and Abra prismatica (a bivalve mollusc) in circalittoral fine sand
SS.SMu.CSaMu.ThyNten: Thyasira spp. and Nuculoma tenuis (both bivalve molluscs) in circalittoral sandy mud
SS.SMx.OMx: Offshore circalittoral mixed sediments
SS.SCS.OCS: Offshore circalittoral coarse sediment
SS.SSa.OSa.OfusAfil: Owenia fusiformis (a polychaete worm) and Amphiura filiformis (a species of brittle star) in offshore circalittoral sand or muddy sand

  • EUSeaMap (2016) - Provides supporting information on the presence and extent of  moderate energy circalittoral rock, subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal sand from a predictive seabed habitat map of European waters.
  • Farnes East rMCZ Summary Site Report (2014) - The data from the 2012 and 2014 site verification surveys have been analysed by Cefas. The results confirm the presence of moderate energy circalittoral rock, subtidal coarse sediment, subtidal sand, subtidal mud, subtidal mixed sediments, sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities and ocean quahog. No evidence of peat and clay exposures was found during the surveys.

 

Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the annexes of pre-consultation and post-consultation scientific advice for Tranche Two offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2016. 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 documents listed on the Evidence tab or the annexes of the MCZ advice documents, please contact JNCC.

 

Conservation Advice

 

Last updated: October 2017

 

Conservation objectives
Conservation objectives set out the desired state for the protected features of an MPA.

The conservation objectives for the protected features of an 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 Objectives for the protected features of the MCZ are:

Subject to natural change, the moderate energy circalittoral rock, subtidal coarse sediment, subtidal sand, subtidal mud, subtidal mixed sediments and sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities features are to remain in or be brought into favourable condition, such that their:

  • Extent is stable or increasing; and
  • Structures and functions, quality, and the composition of their characteristic biological communities are such as to ensure that they are in a condition which is healthy and not deteriorating.

 

Subject to natural change, the ocean quahog feature is to remain in or be brought into favourable condition, such that:

  • The quality and extent of its habitat is stable or increasing; and
  • The population structure allows numbers to be maintained or increased.

 

More information regarding the conservation objectives for the protected features of the Farnes East MCZ is available in the site Designation Order, In addition to the conservation objectives above, General Management Approaches (GMAs) have been set by JNCC for each feature which provide a view as to whether a feature needs to be maintained in or be brought into favourable condition i.e. recover, based on our knowledge about its condition. For more information on the General Management Approach for MCZs see Defra’s MCZ Designation Explanatory Note.

 

The GMAs for the protected features of the MPA are:

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock: Maintain in favourable condition;
  • Subtidal coarse sediment: Maintain in favourable condition;
  • Subtidal sand: Maintain in favourable condition;
  • Subtidal mud: Recover to favourable condition;
  • Subtidal mixed sediments: Maintain in favourable condition;
  • Sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities: Recover to favourable condition; and
  • Ocean quahog: Recover to favourable condition.

 

More information on the GMA for the features in Farnes East MCZ is provided in JNCC’s the Tranche Two pre-consultation and post-consultation scientific advice to Defra.

 

Advice on operations

Section 127 of the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) states that JNCC may provide advice and guidance regarding matters capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected features of an MCZ.

JNCC has published the following advice on activities which are capable of damaging or otherwise affecting protected features in MCZs:

 

JNCC provides a list of activities occurring within the Farnes East MCZ and information on management within the Activities and Management tab. 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.

 

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 the protected features within the site can be found in a Technical Report commissioned by Defra to support the MCZ designation process.

 

The information contained within the Evidence tab, the Activities and Management tab, the above technical report and the advice listed above on activities which are capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected features in MCZs 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; and/or
  • 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 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 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 its conservation objectives.

 

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 site’s 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 Farnes East MCZ 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 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 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 effort within the MPA and UK registered vessels have been active in the area.
  • The site crosses the 12 nautical mile limit. In the 6-12nm portion of the site, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) can introduce measures (e.g. bylaws) where appropriate. Such measures would be developed following individual site assessments and subsequent stakeholder engagement. Where other Member States have historic fishing access rights, any management proposals would need to follow processes laid out in Article 18 of the revised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The section beyond the 12 nautical mile limit 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.
  • Future management proposals would need to be developed by in line with JNCC and Natural England fisheries advice.
  • Should fisheries management measures be developed in the future, further information will be made available via the Marine Management Organisation.

Licensable activities

  • Whilst ‘licensable’ activities such as oil and gas exploration and production do not take place within Farnes East MCZ at present, any future proposals should be 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 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, please see The Marine Management Organisations’ guidance on marine conservation zones and marine licensing.
  • Further information on JNCCs 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
Site condition monitoring surveys are yet to take place within this MPA. Further information will be made available under the monitoring tab in due course.

 

Progression towards conservation objectives
No long-term condition monitoring data are 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: October 2017

 

JNCC is currently leading on the development of a strategy for biodiversity monitoring across all UK waters, to include MPA monitoring. Data and evidence collected from MPA 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.

 

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 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) have been achieved.  Every 6 years from 2012, the Marine Act requires a report setting out how MCZs 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.

 

 

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