Occasional Publications of the Marine Biological Association No. 14
Characterisation of the South West European Marine Sites: Summary Report
[Added June 2003]
The UK and EU have recently committed to an ecosystem-based approach to the management of our marine environment. In line with the requirements of the Habitats regulations, all consents likely to significantly affect Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are to be reviewed. As part of this process, 'site characterisation' is seen as an important first step towards the improved management of designated sites.
This characterisation series, undertaken by the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom and funded by the Environment Agency and English Nature, sets out to determine the current status of designated marine sites in South West England, and how vulnerable (or robust) they are to contaminants (metals, organics, nutrients) and other anthropogenic pressures. Using published information and unpublished data-sets from regulatory agencies, conservation bodies and research institutes (particularly those of the PMSP  ), evidence is compiled on the links between potentially harmful 'activities', environmental quality, and resultant biological consequences. This includes an evaluation of long-term change.
The focus is the effect of water and sediment quality on the key interest features of European Marine sites in the South West of England, namely:
Detailed analysis for each of these sites is provided individually. The summary report contains an overview of physical properties, uses and vulnerability for each of these sites, together with brief comparisons of pollution sources, chemical exposure (via sediment and water) and evidence of biological impact (from bioaccumulation to community-level response).
Limitations of the data, and gaps in our understanding of these systems are highlighted and suggestions are put forward as to where future research and surveillance is most needed. Hopefully this may assist the statutory authorities in targeting future monitoring and remedial activities.
1] PMSP - Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership, comprising the Marine Biological Association (MBA), University of Plymouth (UoP), the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, and Plymouth Marine Laboratories (PML)