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Keith Hiscock MarLIN Programme The Marine Biological Association Plymouth (Presentation available from: www.marlin.ac.uk/pap) Delivering for Biodiversity:

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Presentation on theme: "Keith Hiscock MarLIN Programme The Marine Biological Association Plymouth (Presentation available from: www.marlin.ac.uk/pap) Delivering for Biodiversity:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Keith Hiscock MarLIN Programme The Marine Biological Association Plymouth (Presentation available from: Delivering for Biodiversity: Towards the Marine Biodiversity Implementation Plans Battleby, 22nd March 2007

2 2006/7 – a busy year for marine bio- diversity conservation - especially for me! As a part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) review process, a Marine Priority List Review Group (MPLUG), led by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee considers a revised list of Nationally Important Marine Features and Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Marine Habitats and Species. MBA is commissioned to co-ordinate preparation of the draft list.* * Hiscock, K., Harris, R. & Lukey, J Nationally Important Marine Features and Biodiversity Action Plan Marine Priority Habitats and Species. Report to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee from the Marine Biological Association. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association. JNCC Contract F But database updated and candidate species are being moderated. Defra opens the consultation on a Marine Bill – participation from Scotland encouraged to help in identifying issues widely. Scottish Executive consults on Coastal and Marine National Park.

3 Making BAP criteria work for marine conservation. Presentation: Belfast, 21 May* Using the Habitats Directive and developing new approaches to identify important areas for marine conservation. Presentation: 1st European Congress of Conservation Biology, August 2006 – Eger, Hungary* * Available from: ** Available from Isle of Arran Lamlash Bay proposal for a No Take Zone makes progress. Research for the WWF-UK Marine Biodiversity Hotspots report (Published January 2007)** UK Marine Protected Areas Centre developed. Launch workshop, 28 February 2007, York (not far from Scotland) Developing a practical approach to marine biodiversity conservation. Presentation: Coastal Futures, 16 January 2007*

4 The presentation will: 1. Set the scene for later discussion by identifying: national and international imperatives driving priorities, and recent practical actions 2. Give some examples that might inform potentially new approaches: applying Nationally Important Marine Features (NIMF) and Degree of Threat criteria to identify candidate biotopes and species – experience from doing it; incorporating NIMF and BAP species and habitats into decision making for marine environmental management and protection, and identifying marine biodiversity hotspots. 3. Explain my starter list of priorities for action (which lead to outcomes for marine biodiversity conservation).

5 OSPAR Commission For the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic ANNEX V On the Protection and Conservation of the Ecosystems and Biological Diversity of the Maritime Area LBAPS

6 New tools since the mid 90s: The Britain and Ireland biotopes classification (See: The European Nature Information System: For a read-across between the Britain and Ireland classification, the EUNIS classification and the Habitats Directive Annex I habitats link from:

7 New tools since the mid 90s: Identifying sensitivity and threat of significant decline (MarLIN Biology and Sensitivity Key Information for species and biotopes) Hiscock, K. & Tyler-Walters, H Identifying sensitivity in marine ecosystems: the MarLIN programme. Hydrobiologia, 555,

8 In the UK, development of NIMF – Nationally Important Marine Features, which are: See: Connor et al Rationale and criteria for the identification of nationally important marine nature conservation features and areas in the UK. Version (Available from: Areas that best represent the range of seascapes, habitats and species present in the UK – the UKs marine biodiversity heritage. Seascapes, habitats and species for which we have a special responsibility in a national, regional or global context. Seascapes, habitats and species that have suffered significant decline in their extent or quality, or are threatened with such decline, and can thus be defined as being in poor status.

9 Detailed criteria – forgiving of insufficient information: Defra, Review of Marine Conservation – Working Group report to Government. PB London, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. CRITERION 1: Proportional Importance A high proportion of the populations of a species occurs within the UK. Species are categorised as follows: Global importance: a high (>25%) proportion of the global population of a species occurs within the UK. Regional importance: a high (>30%) proportion of the regional (NE Atlantic within the OSPAR area) population of a species. CRITERION 2: Rarity Marine species that are sessile or of restricted mobility are considered nationally rare if distribution is restricted to eight or less 10km squares (0.5%) within the 3 mile territorial seas limit of UK waters. A mobile species qualifies as nationally rare if the total population size is known, inferred or suspected to be fewer than 250 mature individuals. Outside of inshore areas, sparse survey data makes it difficult to apply quantitative criteria and expert judgement is used. CRITERION 3: Decline An observed, estimated, inferred or suspected significant decline (exceeding expected or known natural fluctuations) in numbers, extent or quality of a marine species in the UK (quality refers to life history parameters). Decline should be at least 25% in the past 25 years where figures are available. CRITERION 4: Threat of decline It is estimated, inferred or suspected that a species will suffer a significant decline in the foreseeable future as a result of human activity. (Factors included for Biodiversity Action Plans: 1. It is predicted that the species will decline by 50% in a current 25 year period, or in the next 25 years; 2. The species is believed to be long-lived (>25 years) with a low recovery potential and if action is not taken to reverse current trends then the species is likely to become extinct in the next 100 years.) Species

10 Threat of significant decline criteria Particularly important for fragile species with short-lived propagules and/or that are long-lived, slow growing and may recruit infrequently Note: whilst marine habitats are well connected by the sea – that only benefits species with planktonic propagules and highly mobile species. Networks of marine protected areas do not work for most of the species that qualify under Threat of significant decline. Northern sea fan. Larva believed short-lived, settles very near parent. Axinellid sponges. Very slow- growing & long-lived? (No colonisation new surfaces). Horse mussels. Very long-lived larva. Devastated by mobile fishing gear. Mpa network needed?

11 Initial numbers of candidate species submitted to JNCC from MBA-led review. (Sharks, skates and rays to be added)

12 So, Nationally Important Marine Features: species and habitats: It is a bonus if the criteria identify species and habitats that: we can take action to improve their status (as BAP). provide a touchstone for anyone involved in environmental protection and management as species or habitats to be protected. UK Priority Biodiversity Action Plan Species and Habitats need action at (UK) national, country and local (LBAP) levels

13 1 Habitat for which the UK has international obligations 2 Natural & semi-natural habitats at risk (high rate of decline, rare) 3 Habitats important for assemblages of key species 4.1 Extreme threat and habitat dependant on long-lived, slow growing and vulnerable species. 4.2 Extreme human activity linked threat and a 50% decline in the next 25 years is feasible. 4.3 Restricted to isolated locations and threatened with local extinction. 4.4 Habitat likely to contain rare/scarce threatened species. 4.5 An element of a biotope is threatened with destruction at least locally. But BAP criteria are sometimes unhelpful and sometimes fail through insufficient information; for instance, habitats:

14 1 International Threat 2 International responsibility & moderate decline in the UK 3 Marked decline in the UK 4.1 It is predicted that the species will decline by 50% in a current or next 25 year period. 4.2 Extreme threat and long-lived, low recovery potential; species is likely to become extinct in the next 100 years. 4.3 Extreme threat, species declining and 'indicator' that represents an issue causing problems for other spp. 4.4 Extreme threat, once more abundant and widespread and population now not likely to be viable in the long term. 4.5 Extreme threat and threatened internationally, UK could become a 'stronghold'. BAP Species criteria even more prone to Insufficient information

15 Incorporating NIMF into decision-making Adapted from: Hiscock, K. & Tyler- Walters, H Identifying sensitivity in marine ecosystems: the MarLIN programme. Hydrobiologia, 555,

16 Survey data from the MNCR ( ) (includes data from Northern Ireland surveys and BioMar surveys in Eire) Survey data from the MBA MarLIN data access sub-programme But, identifying NIMF and BAP is data- hungry

17 Criteria for the identification of Important Marine Areas* Typicalness Naturalness Size Biological diversity Critical area Area important for a priority marine feature * Defra, Review of Marine Conservation – Working Group report to Government. PB London, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. countryside/ewd/rmnc/pdf/rmnc-report-0704.pdf Features that qualify as special features or which are declined or threatened should contribute to the identification of these areas. Encompasses OSPAR criteria: THREATENED OR DECLINING SPECIES AND HABITATS/BIOTOPES. [Include Rarity as information on decline is often lacking.] and IMPORTANT SPECIES AND HABITATS/BIOTOPES. [Refers to global (Proportional importance) and UK (Regional importance) distribution and population numbers.] and SENSITIVITY. Nationally Important Marine Areas

18 Identifying Nationally Important Marine Areas – Biodiversity hotspot measures Marine biodiversity hotspots are areas of high species and habitat richness that include representative, rare and threatened features Measures trialled in the WWF-UK and MBA study: Species richness Biotope richness Candidate NIMF species richness Candidate NIMF biotope richness Average taxonomic distinctness Average biotope distinctness See: Hiscock, K. & Breckels, M Marine Biodiversity Hotspots: identification and protection. Godalming: WWF UK. Available from:

19 1. Species Richness and 2. Average taxonomic distinctness for 6 major phyla. Red dots represent hot areas or high diversity, green dots represent areas of expected diversity and blue dots show areas with lower than expected diversity We do have data and can analyse it to identify, for instance, biodiversity hotspots – examples here: read the report for context

20 A starter-list of Priorities for Action

21 Overcoming Out-of-sight-out-of-mind – getting the message across that there is some wonderful marine life around the Scottish coast and offshore – some of it rare, threatened and in decline. – getting the message across that there is some wonderful marine life around the Scottish coast and offshore – some of it rare, threatened and in decline.

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25 Overcoming Insufficient information – many species do not qualify as BAP because the science is not (and will not be) capable of giving necessary information to inform most recent BAP criteria – will NIMF species and biotopes fill the gap – and be more meaningful? Axinella infundibuliformis etc. Firth of Lorn

26 What is where – how are we going to locate where are NIMF species and biotopes in Scotland? How are we going to locate where are candidate NIMAs and what are the problems with existing data – more appropriate survey?

27 The Firth of Lorn is widely believed to be a marine biodiversity hotspot – but there is insufficient data to apply objective criteria

28 Data is inadequate to undertake assessment of location of representative and best examples of features Firth of Lorn full surveys (not incl. recent SAC status surveys)

29 Data sets in danger- in Scotland

30 Developing a meaningful indicator of ecosystem health UK Biodiversity Hotspots Quality measures – incorporating presence of features of marine natural heritage importance Descriptive measures are easy but quantification and creating indices encounters problems of uneven data sets See, for instance: Hiscock, K., et al Development of a hard substratum benthic invertebrate Water Framework Directive compliant classification tool. Report to the EA and JNCC from the Marine Biological Association. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association. Water Framework Directive: High Good Moderate Poor Bad – the Water Framework Directive is very important, but will it measure and protect important features of biodiversity? Maintaining and improving water quality

31 Protect the habitat and youll protect the species in it - is that the most practical way to go (rather than listing species on statutes)?

32 Or/and, is protection needed for named species - for instance to achieve protection for commercial or sports species (e.g. common skate) and souvenir species (e.g. fan mussel)? Image: Davy Benson

33 Well, be careful, Serpula vermicularis is very widespread but reefs are rare

34 Avoiding co-lateral damage – which route to follow?

35 How to avoid co-lateral damage to NIMF and other important species and habitats as a result of extractive activities ? the route to follow – fixed-gear reserves, highly protected biodiversity reserves (within NIMAs) etc.: ! Forget networks – they do not work for many long-lived, slow-growing species with infrequent recruitment – they are not needed for the widely distributed fast colonizing, fast growing species. ! Protect species where they occur – grasp the opportunity of local initiatives to have NTZs – and create new initiatives. ! Do not wait for grand schemes (networks of mpas) ! Do not wait for more research – use soft intelligence now

36 Biosecurity – taking action against the real and potential threat of non- native species to native biodiversity. Fish and invertebrates killed by a bloom of the non-native dinoflagellate alga Karenia mikimotoi (previously Gymnodinium aureolum) in Killary Harbour in July Image: Rohan Holt. A red tide Another non-native species – probably the next nasty surprise

37 Speaking with authority – improving knowledge of activities and understanding of sectoral cultures – where are the users of the marine environment coming from?

38 Speaking with authority – maintaining and improving personal knowledge of Scottish marine ecosystems including of wildlife identification skills.

39 Speaking with authority – understanding structure, functioning and ecosystem processes, including natural fluctuations, intolerance to factors, recovery potential etc. From: Hiscock, K., Marshall, C., Sewell, J. & Hawkins S.J The structure and functioning of marine ecosystems: an environmental protection and management perspective. Report by the Marine Biological Association. English Nature Research Reports No Available from

40 And using that knowledge to inform the ecosystem approach But, beware, for example: Services such as resilience and resistance and nutrient cycling play a fundamental role in the continued delivery of all other goods and services, but little is known about the contribution of biodiversity to these services. Nicola Beaumont and Melanie Austen in e-conference* on 19 March 2007 See: Beaumont N.J., M.C. Austen, J. Atkins, D. Burdon, S. Degraer, T.P. Dentinho, S. Derous, P. Holm, T. Horton, E. van Ierland, A. H. Marboe, D.J. Starkey, M. Townsend, T. Zarzycki (2007). Identification, Definition and Quantification of Goods and Services provided by Marine Biodiversity: Implications for the Ecosystem Approach. Accepted Marine Pollution Bulletin, January * Session III: Biodiversity and ecosystem services - the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concept from a European perspective (see:

41 Image: Ian Reach/Natural England And, can natural history knowledge stop bonkers conservation? Areas where Sabellaria spinulosa had been lost due to winter storms appeared to recolonize up to a maximum thickness of 2.4 cm during the following summer. (R. Holt, pers. comm. in Jones 1998).

42 (Presentation available from:

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44 Culled slides follow (slides in draft presentation culled because of time constraints or not strictly relevant)

45 Recent practical actions (Directives have teeth)

46 4 Habitats Directive: UK Special Areas of Conservation established (red) or proposed (blue) for marine habitats and species (The Darwin Mounds possible SAC is not shown. Additionally, the following are draft offshore SAC: Braemer Pockmarks; Dogger Bank; Haig Fras; North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn reef; Scanner Pockmark; Stanton Banks; Wyville Thomson Ridge. Information derived from Map from a draft WWF-UK report on Biodiversity Hotspots

47 ANNEX V On the Protection and Conservation of the Ecosystems and Biological Diversity of the Maritime Area (OSPAR has generated criteria for the identification of marine protected areas and lists of threatened habitats and species) Other imperatives: (OSPAR has recommended the establishment by 2010 of an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas ) OSPAR Commission For the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic

48 In June 1992, the Convention of Biological Diversity was signed by 159 governments at the Earth Summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro (it is also referred to as the Rio Convention.). It entered into force on 29 December 1993 and it was the first treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation. It called for the creation and enforcement of national strategies and action plans to conserve, protect and enhance biological diversity.

49 32. … promote the conservation and management of the oceans through …: (c) … the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international law and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012 … (d) … develop national regional and international programmes for halting the loss of marine biodiversity… Other imperatives:

50 Locating, accessing, validating and making available unpublished records Part of unpublished 1927 survey data from Torbay, rescued 2005 (Defra funded)

51 Realities, not problems 1. We have a very good seabed biology dataset – but only extensively for inshore areas. 2. But that dataset is uneven (for statistical comparisons of areas including of quality) and there remain significant gaps. 3. Using mathematically impressive quantitative sampling for monitoring change is often an unrealistic expectation especially for hard substrata – but pragmatic and practical approaches can tell the story. 4. Hard evidence of change - including change brought about by human activities – is difficult to come by but experienced naturalists need to be believed – and their numbers increased. Soft intelligence! 5. Policy advisors may have to accept what ecologists CAN do and not what they would LIKE us to be able to do.


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