Wednesday 18 April 2018

JNCC/CEFAS April Survey in the North Sea

The time has come again for our JNCC survey staff to join Cefas staff on their research vessel, the Cefas Endeavour, for a 2-week-long survey to Farnes East and North-east of Farnes Deep Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), within offshore English waters. Monitoring MPAs in general, help us understand how these sites contribute to network of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the UK coastline. Farnes East MCZ has been selected due to the need for a bigger dataset to allow management to be well informed regarding the status of the site. North-east of Farnes Deep MCZ has been chosen due to the need to assess the effects of proposed management measures.

Figure 1: Locations of the sites to be surveyed this April.

Farnes East MCZ contains a glacial trench forming the deepest part of the MCZ. The site is designated for a large variety of sediment types, seapen and burrowing megafauna, and the presence of Ocean quahog. The main focus of this survey is to investigate the glacial trench and the subtidal mud feature within it.
The bivalve mollusc, ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) is a protected feature of conservation importance is found at this site. Additionally, sea pens and burrowing species such as the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) make their home within the muddy habitats of this MPA.
Our team will be using a combination of mini-Hamon grab and drop-frame camera equipment to better understand the subtidal mud feature within the site. They also aim to identify the quality and quantity of the Habitat Feature of Community Importance (FOCI), sea-pen and burrowing megafauna communities.

©2012 JNCC and Cefas

Figure 2: Bottom topography of Farnes East MCZ obtained from the joint 2012 survey with Cefas..

North East of Farnes Deep MCZ (NEFD) is mainly composed of sandy sediment, with smaller patches of gravelly sand and mud, which are all protected substrates. These substrates are known to support a diverse range of marine flora and fauna such as anemones, worms, molluscs, echinoderms and fish species.
Watch this space and JNCC Twitter feed for further updates before and during the survey!