No. 11 - JNCC/Cefas Partnership Report Series Dogger Bank SCI 2014 Monitoring R&D Survey Report
(011 - 2017)
Eggleton, J., Murray, J., McIlwaine, P., Mason, C., Noble-James, T., Hinchen, H., Nelson, M., McBreen, F., Ware, S. & Whomersley, P.
This report describes the findings of a dedicated survey which was carried out between 17th May and 6th June 2014 on the RV Cefas Endeavour (cruise CEND 10/14) to collect evidence to support the development of monitoring options specifically for the Dogger Bank SCI and, more generally, for other comparable offshore shallow sand and coarse sediment habitats.



This study was carried out jointly by Cefas and JNCC under an overarching marine monitoring strategy in which monitoring options, within the context of fisheries management measures at the Dogger Bank Site of Community Importance (SCI), were investigated. The Dogger Bank SCI comprises the largest expanse of shallow sandbanks in UK waters; ranging depth from 20–60m below chart datum, and represents more than 70% of the UK Annex I sandbank resource. It is located in the Southern North Sea, approximately 150km north-east of the Humber estuary and is comprised of sands and discrete areas of coarser sediments. The Dogger Bank is a geological feature and therefore differs from other UK sandbank features that are formed by hydrological processes and, as such, represents a variation of typical offshore Annex I sandbanks. The Dogger Bank feature was formed by glacial processes prior to submersion through sea level rise and extends across international maritime boundaries.  Separate SCIs have been designated in the Netherlands and Germany to incorporate the entire feature. Proposed fisheries management zones, currently for consideration under the common fisheries policy (CFP), were jointly submitted by the UK, the Netherlands and Germany and aim to regulate fisheries for the protection of the Habitats Directive Annex I habitat type 'sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time'.

The aims of this study included three types of monitoring objectives:

1.            Sentinel Monitoring (Type 1) involved assessing the current spatial and temporal variability in benthic communities and sediment characteristics of the Dogger Bank SCI to enable any directional trends to be better understood within the context of natural variability. An additional aim, given the multinational interests of the SCI, was to understand how the choice of sediment sampling gear affects the various metrics applied to infer conservation status or ecological condition of the feature. A subset of stations, surveyed in the 1980s and/or 1990s with a Van Veen grab, were revisited with two sediment sampling gears (Mini Hamon and Van Veen grabs) to enable 1) a temporal comparison of faunal communities and 2) an investigation into how gear selection affects the derived metrics.

2.            Operational Monitoring (Type 2) involved measuring the current state of benthic communities and sediment characteristics and relating observations to an abrasion pressure gradient. Abrasion pressure was calculated using data on fishing activity obtained from Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS). VMS data were aggregated and gridded at 0.05 decimal degrees (dd). Ten areas representing five pressure levels, comprising two spatial replicates of each, were sampled to determine sediment characteristics and benthic community composition.

3.            Investigative Monitoring (Type 3) involved assessing the benthic communities and sediment characteristics within and outside four proposed management areas as part of a longer term manipulative study into the response of benthic habitats to the cessation of bottom trawling. This survey is limited to the provision of data collected at the ‘Before’ (management) stage of the ‘Before-After-Control-Impact’ (BACI) experimental design employed.

All three monitoring strategies complement each other and provide datasets against which future monitoring data may be compared to explore spatial and temporal change, and potentially infer causality of changes where they are observed (e.g. in relation to changes in spatial and temporal distribution of given pressures).




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ISSN 2051-6711
Please cite as: Eggleton, J., Murray, J., McIlwaine, P., Mason, C., Noble-James, T., Hinchen, H., Nelson, M., McBreen, F., Ware, S. & Whomersley, P., (011 - 2017), No. 11 - JNCC/Cefas Partnership Report Series Dogger Bank SCI 2014 Monitoring R&D Survey Report, ISSN 2051-6711