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Making BAP criteria ‘work’ for marine conservation

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Presentation on theme: "Making BAP criteria ‘work’ for marine conservation"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making BAP criteria ‘work’ for marine conservation
Keith Hiscock Marine Biological Association Plymouth

2 “Making BAP criteria ‘work’ for marine conservation”
means that the criteria identify species and habitats that: Are scientifically credible to scientists (so that they can support the resulting lists of species and habitats). Are understandable/sensible for decision makers (so that they can accept the constraints on development). Help to achieve the objectives/requirements of directives, conventions and statutes. It is a bonus if the criteria identify species and habitats that: 1. We can take action to improve their status.

3 NIMF – Nationally Important Marine Features, which are:
As well as BAP, now: NIMF – Nationally Important Marine Features, which are: Areas that best represent the range of seascapes, habitats and species present in the UK – the UK’s 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. See: Connor et al Rationale and criteria for the identification of nationally important marine nature conservation features and areas in the UK. Version Unpublished. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. (Available from:

4 So, the presentation: Recent imperatives for marine – OSPAR, Johannesburg, Marine Bill. Context – how many marine species and habitats? Credibility - new tools for marine biodiversity conservation since the mid-90’s. 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. On the horizon – new approaches that include NIMF and BAP species and habitats to identify ‘marine biodiversity hotspots’. Information and skills gaps to be filled – what we need to do – and what we need not to do.

5 Recent imperatives: ANNEX V
                                                                                                                                          Recent imperatives: 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) (OSPAR has recommended the establishment by 2010 of an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas )

6 Recent imperatives: 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…

7 Recent imperatives:

8 How many marine species?
8, 229 multicellular marine species listed in the Species Directory for Britain and Ireland. Numbers of marine species in major groups in Britain & Ireland (excluding viruses, bacteria, cyanobacteria, & fungi) See:

9 How many marine habitats?
Biotopes are the most common level at which habitats are classified: A biotope is: The smallest geographical unit of the biosphere or of a habitat that can be delimited by convenient boundaries and is characterized by its biota (Lincoln et al., 1998). Phymatolithon calcareum maerl beds with hydroids and echinoderms in deeper infralittoral clean gravel or coarse sand (Code: IGS.Phy.HEc). Image: Keith Hiscock 262/370 biotopes (at Level 4/5) in the 2004 classification (Connor et al See:

10 ‘New’ tools since the mid-90’s: the Species Directory (1997/99)
Now getting out-of-date and in need of replacement (NBN Species Dictionary or European Register of Marine Species?)

11 ‘New’ tools since the mid 90’s:
The Britain and Ireland biotopes classification (Connor et al and See:

12 ‘New’ tools since the mid 90’s:
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,

13 ‘New’ tools since the mid 90’s:
Criteria for the identification of Important Marine Areas* Typicalness Naturalness Size Biological diversity Critical area Area important for a priority marine feature “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. * Defra, Review of Marine Conservation – Working Group report to Government. PB London, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

14 ‘New’ tools since the mid 90’s:
Criteria for identifying Nationally Important Marine Features Species 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.) Defra, Review of Marine Conservation – Working Group report to Government. PB London, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

15 How many species and habitats?
8,229 multicellular marine species listed in the Species Directory for Britain and Ireland. (About 1/7 of terrestrial & freshwater numbers.) 254 marine ‘Species of Conservation Concern’ (i.e. listed on conventions, directives and statutes) (information from JNCC) 47 marine species listed in Annex II, IV & V of the Habitats Directive 19 marine species (84 including grouped species) and 18 habitats (plus 6 broad habitats) listed in the 1999 Biodiversity Action Plan. 402 candidate NIMF and 119 candidate (of which 57 are existing) BAP species in the recent MBA review to JNCC. (Not including sharks, skates & rays.) 52 candidate NIMF and 72 candidate BAP habitats in the recent MBA review. (Existing 18 BAP habitats are additional)

16 Numbers of species in major groups:
Numbers of marine species in major groups in Britain & Ireland (excluding viruses, bacteria, cyanobacteria, & fungi) See:

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

18 ‘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 Sunset coral. Larva short-lived, settles very near parent. Branching axinellid sponges. Very slow-growing & long-lived? (No colonisation new surfaces). Fan mussel. Very long-lived larva. Devastated by mobile fishing gear. Mpa network needed? 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’.

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

20 Identifying ‘hotspots’
Work currently underway by the MBA for WWF-UK: Workshop in Bristol on 26 July 2006 Part species and biotope richness Not endemism Takes account of NIMF

21 Issues: to resolve in identification of NIMF and BAP species and habitats
1. Uneven coverage due to differing points-of-view from expert advisors. Most points-of-view concern ‘rarity’ including concepts of ‘naturally rare’ and issues of under-recorded. 2. Some potential expert advisors too busy to advise. 3. Habitats Directive Annex 1 marine habitats too broad – most biotopes would qualify for BAP under “Habitat for which the UK has international obligations” criterion. 4. And, just because it’s a habitat in the Habitats Directive, does not necessarily mean that it has any special merit for protection – ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa reefs and ‘Shallow sandbanks slightly covered by seawater ….’

22 Issues: Applying criteria to ‘old’ data
Marine is different to terrestrial: many marine habitats are in a close to natural state (not being managed to prevent succession) and the associated species and biotopes do not change greatly from year-to-year. Return to the same location, and you’ll find much the same biotopes and species: And I should know KH circa 1969 For instance, based on work by Forster (1954): “The overall appearance of the fauna and flora was much as described in the 1950’s but with some species not re-found in 2003 and some species added to the lists from the 1950’s”

23 There are, of course, changes (e.g. Lundy)
1986 2001 But, often, we have to use old data as we do not have time to re-survey unless a part of statutory monitoring.

24 And habitat destruction has and is happening on a massive scale in places
(Lyme Bay now)

25 Issues: availability of data
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. 1999

26 Issues: there are significant gaps (MNCR data from MERMAID)

27 Issues: Locating, accessing, validating and making available unpublished records
Part of unpublished 1927 survey data from Torbay, ‘rescued’ 2005

28 Issues: some data sets very time-consuming to enter to a database

29 Issues: data sets in danger
Skips arrive at the (closed) Port Erin Marine laboratory on 3 July 2006

30 New survey: Intertidal biotope surveys (with ‘target notes’ for small-scale features)
A type of biodiversity – but searches for rich habitats and rare species needed to identify ‘special’ sites

31 New survey: Biotope maps via acoustic survey and video: just a starting point -
species data is needed to identify rare, scarce or threatened species, richness and to apply NIMF & BAP criteria. Image courtesy of Envision.

32 Issues: we need to ‘major’ on surveys that describe species occurrences and quantities
- but they are not ‘fashionable’

33 Issues: decline of marine naturalists and associated knowledge
Philip Henry Gosse Sir Frederick S. Russell

34 And finally, what it’s about: is keeping it looking like this

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