Pisces Reef Complex

Site details

UK map showing location of Pisces Reef Complex Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Pisces Reef Complex SAC/SCI/cSAC
 

Note:

When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

1170 Reefs
The Pisces Reef Complex is located in the western Irish Sea, in the north-west mud basin. It is approximately midway between the Isle of Man and the coast of Northern Ireland. The area consists of an extensive mud plain through which three areas of Annex I bedrock and boulder-dominated stony reef protrude. The areas are situated apart from each other at distances of between 5.5 km and 14 km. While the SAC consists of the three reef features, the boundary has been delineated to exclude the areas of muddy sediment in. The average seabed depth within the site boundary is approximately 100 m with a maximum of 134 m and a minimum of 70 m at the peaks of the rocky reef outcrops. The deepest depths are within the scour pits which encircle the outcropping rocky reefs. The three extruding reefs are composed of tertiary igneous rock and boulders. They rise 15-35m above the surrounding seabed. The reef tops are composed of silty bedrock, with a patchy veneer of muddy sediment, due to sediment deposition from a localised scouring process. The reefs themselves support a diverse community of brachiopods, ascidians, hydroids, sponges and fish. In particular, the mosaic of bedrock and stony reef provide a myriad of ledges and habitat niches. Of note is the occurrence of the Diphasia alata hydroid community. It is not currently included within the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland, but is considered rare. The difference in species composition and abundance between the reefs and the surrounding mud plain highlights the importance of the reefs in providing a refuge for numerous species. The area of muddy sediment around the rocky reefs supports a major Nephrops norvegicus fishery and a high density of Nephrops burrows has been observed.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

Not applicable.

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Not applicable.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.


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