As part of the implementation of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, a network of conservation sites is being created in British seas, with the intention of conserving or improving the UK marine environment. The network will comprise of Marine Protected Areas, European Marine Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ramsar sites and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). In September 2011 four Regional MCZ Projects, managed by Natural England (NE) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), produced recommendations for 127 proposed sites (rMCZs). 

A project named MB0120 undertook seabed survey work, including acoustics, video, sediment sampling, to provide additional data and habitat maps to increase the quality and amount of evidence available for these recommended sites. The next project (MB0129) is the follow-on project to MB0120 and allows for the continuation of additional seabed survey work to be undertaken where required in order to continue to support designation, monitoring and management of sites. This project will make sure data collected as part of this project are properly received, managed, processed, quality assured and archived in a way that ensures they can be confidently used by funders, stakeholders and the wider community to support the ongoing MCZ consultation and designation process.

DASSH staff have been working with Defra, JNCC, NE, Cefas and the other MEDIN DAC's to archive and disseminate data collected under this program. DASSH receive data relating the species and habitats including that from benthic grabs, video and still photographs, and particle size analysis (PSA). Other marine data types such as bathymetry and backscatter are archived at the UKHO and BGS respectively. Discovery metadata for each survey is provided by Cefas to the MEDIN portal where it will be discoverable to anyone looking to reuse the data. Each dataset will be freely available to for view and download.

Dan Lear