Western Channel MPA

 

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)Farnes East MCZ Boundary

 

Western Channel MCZ is located 54 km off the south coast of England to the south-east of the Lizard Peninsula; the southern boundary of the site follows the country median line between the UK and France.

 

The site makes a large contribution to the protection of Subtidal coarse sediment and Subtidal sand in the region. It is also important for the connectivity between both MPAs in the UK offshore region and also between the MPAs in UK waters and those in French waters.

 

 

 

Map displaying MPA boundary and associated

protected feature data. Further data will be

available in due course. 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)
A5.1 Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-Scale Habitat Recover to favourable condition
A5.2 Subtidal sand Broad-Scale Habitat 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.

Specific information on the conservation objectives relating to this MCZ 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  Western Channel MCZ.  More detail can be found within the relevant documentation listed below and Annex 3 of the JNCC Advice on possible offshore Marine Conservation Zones considered for consultation in 2015.

 

Western Channel timeline

 


Relevant Documentation


The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Western Channel MCZ were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.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

 

 



Summary

 

Last updated October 2017

 

Information for this site summary was adapted from JNCC’s scientific advice to Defra on Western Channel MCZ and incorporates any further information gathered since this document was produced. Please refer to this document in the relevant documentation section for further details and information sources.

 

Site overview

Western Channel MCZ is situated approximately 54km off the south coast on England to the south-east of the Lizard Peninsula. The site is an area of continental shelf that is predominantly sandy with a mixed distribution of coarse and mixed sediments across the site extent.
The site protects subtidal habitats that are representative of offshore habitats in UK waters. This includes the protection of almost 1440km2 of Subtidal coarse sediment, as well as over 150km2 of Subtidal sand. The acoustic signature from survey shows the presence of sand waves throughout the site known as Barchan dunes. These crescent-shaped sand dune produced by the action of wind predominately from one direction.  These habitats support a range of animal species including segmented worms, sponges, molluscs and echinoderms, including sea urchins and starfish. Cnidarians, such as anemones, are also present alongside a variety of crustaceans and fish species, including the small spotted cat shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) and Angler fish (Lophius piscatorius).

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:  1613.5km2

Site depth range:  85 -105m

Charting Progress 2 biogeographic region - Western Channel & Celtic Seas.

 

Site boundary description
The site is a simple polygon with six boundary lines running south west to north east in line with the guidance provided by the MCZ project Ecological Network Guidance (ENG). The southern boundary of the site aligns with the UK Continental Shelf boundary. The boundary of the Western Channel MCZ has not changed since it was recommended by the Finding Sanctuary Regional MCZ Project in 2011.

 

Evidence

 

Last updated October 2017

 

Site specific data
There are a range of data that underpin this MCZ. The full overview of these data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in JNCC’s Tranche Two MCZ pre-consultation and post-consultation scientific advice for offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2016.

JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to the JNCC Interactive MPA 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. These data provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

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

SS.SCS.CCS.Blan: A5.145 Branchiostoma lanceolatum in circalittoral coarse sand with shell gravel

SS.SCS. CCS / CR.MCR.EcCr.CarSp: A5.14 circalittoral coarse sediment / A4.212 Caryophyllia smithii, sponges and crustose communities on wave-exposed circalittoral rock

  • EUSeaMap  - (Last updated 2016)
    Provides supporting information on the presence and extent of subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal sand from a predictive seabed habitat map of European waters.
  • Western Channel MCZ MB0120 Survey (2016)
    JNCC collaborated on an MCZ site verification survey with Cefas to Western Channel MCZ funded through the MB0120 Defra data collection programme.  Ground-truthing and acoustic data were collected across the majority of the site.
  • Western Channel MCZ Summery Site Report - Report available in due course
    The data from the 2012 verification surveys have been analysed by Cefas. The analysis confirmed the presence of subtidal sand and subtidal coarse sediments. Moderate energy circalittoral rock and subtidal mixed sediments, which are not currently protected features of the site, were also identified.
  • British Geological Survey Particle Size Analysis (PSA) Data Points
    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 occurs within the site.


References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the annexes of our advice.

 

Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional data or relevant scientific papers for this site not listed in the relevant documentation, including our Tranche Two MCZ pre-consultation and post consultation scientific advice documents, 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.

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 Objectives for the protected features of Western Channel MCZ are:


Subject to natural change, the Subtidal coarse sediment and Subtidal sand features are to remain in or be brought into favourable condition, such that:
  • its extent is stable or increasing;
  • its structures and functions, its quality, and the composition of its characteristic biological communities are such as to ensure that it is in a condition which is healthy and not deteriorating.


More information regarding the conservation objectives for the protected features of Western Channel 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 :

Subtidal coarse sediment: Recover to favourable condition

Subtidal sand: Recover to favourable condition

More information on the GMA for the features in Western Channel MCZ is provided in JNCC’s Tranche Two MCZ 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 Western Channel 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 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;
  • 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. 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 on the offshore MPA conservation advice webpage.

 

Activities and Management

 

Last updated October 2017

 

Management status: Management is in development

 

The vulnerability assessment conducted for this site suggests it is unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives, but directed site condition monitoring data are needed to improve our confidence in this assessment. Fisheries management is under discussion between the Marine Management Organisation, Defra and JNCC.


This site forms part of the UK's 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 Western Channel 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

  • Vessel monitoring data indicate that there is mobile demersal gear and potting activity occurring within the MCZ.
  • This MCZ 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 (MMO) are the lead authority regarding the implementation of, and compliance with, any measures to manage fishing activity. Further information on progress is available via MMO webpages.

Licensable activities

  • Licensable activities such as oil and gas exploration and production do not take place within Western Channel MCZ at present, but any future proposals would 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 site’s conservation objectives. JNCC consider the existing marine licensing process is sufficient to ensure the management of licensable activities that could take place in the future on the protected features of this MPA.
  • For further information, please see the MMO’s guidance on marine conservation zones and marine licensing.
  • 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

Telecommunications cables

  • One telecommunications cable currently crosses through the MPA.
  • Cables are largely an unregulated activity in offshore waters depending upon the type of cable being laid (or maintained), where it is being laid between and whether the cable is part of a larger development (which may be regulated). Any cable not directly associated with an energy installation does not require a marine license beyond 12 nautical miles.
  • JNCC encourages early discussion from operators regarding any plans related to new or existing cables, and encourages the undertaking of non-statutory environmental impact assessments for new or existing cable projects to assess their effect on the protected features of the MPA.

 

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. The site’s protected features have ‘recover’ conservation objectives, based on a vulnerability assessment that examined exposure to activities associated with pressures to which the protected features of the site are considered sensitive. This suggests the site is unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives but site condition monitoring data would improve our confidence in this assessment. Further information will be provided under the Assessment tab as it becomes available.


 

 

Monitoring

 

Last updated October 2017

 

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.

 

Assessment

 

Last updated October 2017

 

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.

Under the UK Marine & Coastal Access (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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