Marine Benthic Habitats Monitoring

 

The UK now has multiple national and international requirements for marine biodiversity monitoring and assessment, and it is primarily the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive which requires monitoring programmes to be in place across the whole marine environment. As part of the UK-wide Marine Biodiversity Monitoring R&D Programme, whose overarching aim is to develop advice on monitoring options marine biodiversity within UK territorial and offshore waters, JNCC are developing options for monitoring of benthic habitats in the wider environment outside of protected sites, as well as within them.

In practice, developing advice on monitoring options means that JNCC has been asked by UK Governments to present them with different ways in which monitoring of benthic habitats could be tackled in order to fulfil our numerous requirements. Development of monitoring in the wider benthic environment is very challenging because the area in which we work is so large, the benthic habitats within it are so diverse and understanding of the most effective indicators and tools for monitoring is limited. Therefore, in developing this work, the project team collaborate with partners in the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies and with other UKMMAS partners to understand what monitoring is currently going on and to determine how it could be further developed to cover this broad biological and geographical scope. There are several streams of work and we ultimately aim to:

  • streamline protocols and procedures for UK monitoring
  • consider monitoring survey designs and work with MPA monitoring to design effective operational monitoring surveys which combine monitoring needs for habitats both within and outside MPAs
  • work with UKMMAS partners on developing indicators and the practical side of implementing assessment tools
  • deliver options for the cost effective monitoring of benthic habitats and protected sites to UK Governments

Our long term goal is to build a fully integrated and cost effective monitoring programme for benthic marine habitats with robust QA systems and good standard protocols. This programme will help to answer the many important questions posed by the various national and international policy obligations and will robustly inform management of human activities in the marine environment.