University of Plymouth
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Stanton Banks was designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) through the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 2007 and has now been accepted as a Site of Community Importance (SCI). The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in partnership with Cefas and supported by British Geological Survey (BGS) staff conducted a field survey to investigate the presence and extent of Annex I habitat features within the Stanton Banks SCI in order to facilitate discussions on possible fisheries management options. The survey was designed to acquire sufficient data to provide a robust characterisation of the Annex I rocky reef habitats, targeting areas of particular interest to fishers, and to contribute to the development of a robust baseline for future monitoring within the proposed SAC. In addition, the survey involved the characterisation and mapping of the sedimentary habitats surrounding the reef feature within the site boundary, in order to provide information on the wider environmental context.
The cruise took place between the 1st and 29th of July 2009 and surveyed two Areas of Search (AoS) for offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SACs): Anton Dohrn Seamount located 155km west of the St Kilda archipelago, and East Rockall Bank located 260km west of the St Kilda archipelago. The main aims of the survey were to acquire acoustic and photographic ?ground-truthing? data to enable geological, geomorphological and biological characterisation of the Anton Dohrn Seamount and East Rockall Bank AoS. Specifically, the data acquired will lead to the production of broadscale habitat maps, the identification and description of Annex I reef habitats with particular attention to the occurrence of bedrock, stony and biogenic reef, to identify and record any anthropogenic impacts in the areas of search and finally to evaluate data acquisition methods, techniques and equipment.
Translated from Anton Dohrn biotope maps showing all Annex I and non-Annex I habitats. Translated to EUNIS by JNCC. Data collected aboard the MV Franklin in July 2009: Acoustics (Multibeam echosounder), Drop camera/towed video (10 sites). The original survey plan (Stewart 2009) for the Anton Dohrn Seamount AoS involved a combination of radial transects on the top of Anton Dohrn and a suite of transects parallel to the flanks of the seamount both at the top of the flank and a level near the base the flank tohighlight the lower level of possible rock or hard substrate. The survey plan was subsequently modified to provide an area of multibeam coverage over two areas on the flanks of the seamount. The areas selected were on the south-eastern flank and the northwestern flank (Figure 5) and included diverse morphological features noted during the SEA 7 2005 survey (Jacobs 2006). The areas would provide a contrast between the south-eastern area primarily subject to ‘southern’ water masses and the north-western area occasionally influenced by ‘colder’ NSDW waters spilling over the Wyville Thomson Ridge. The two case study areas also differ in the height of the cliff surrounding the seamount. In the northwestern area the break in slope is at around 845m below sea level with the cliff descending to the moat at around 2195m depth, the slope levels off below 1700m at the foot of the cliff. The south-eastern area shows a subtle break in slope at around 875m below sea level and a major break in slope at around 1100m below sea level before the cliff descends towards the centre of the moat at around 2300m water depth. The range of morphological features observed on the lower slopes of also differed.
Translated from East Rockall habitat map showing all Annex I and non-Annex I habitats. Translated to EUNIS by JNCC. Data collected in 2009 aboard the MV Franklin in July 2009: Acoustics (Multibeam echosounder), Sidescan Sonar, Drop camera/towed video (17 sites). For the East Rockall Bank AoS the original survey plan consisted primarily of a series of traverses along the top and base of the eastern flank of Rockall Bank and several traverses at right angles across the top of the bank and down into the Rockall Trough. However to maximise the coverage along the rocky escarpment that runs along the length of the AoS, this initial plan was replaced with a long double swath width of multibeam echosounder data acquired along the escarpment; the upper break in slope, roughly coincident with the 500m bathymetric contour, as imaged previously by the SEA 7 2005 multibeam echosounder datasets. From previous studies (including FRS drop camera surveys), this area was selected as being the most likely place to host Annex I reef habitats, in particular as potential sites for Lophelia pertusa. A number of survey lines at right angles to the break in slope were added to the along-escarpment line to better characterise features of interest observed on the 2005 multibeam echosounder dataset downslope of the escarpment. Additionally several survey lines were located on the top of the bank, across an area of suspected iceberg ploughmarks.