Marine Scotland Blog
Duration: 10 – 30 August 2017
Fishing Gear: GOV Trawl (BT 137) with Ground Gear A & B
- To complete an internationally coordinated demersal trawling survey in the North Sea in ICES area IV.
- To obtain temperature and salinity data from the surface and seabed at each trawling station using a SEABIRD 19+CTD
- To collect additional biological data in connection with the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF).
Scotia will proceed to the first station northeast of Peterhead at the Buchan Deeps where a shakedown haul will be completed in advance of the first real haul in order to check the net configuration and the SCANMAR units. An operational daily survey plan will be formulated by the SIC subsequent to daily meetings with both the Fishing Master and Captain.
There are 81 programmed rectangles to be surveyed and these are presented to the right and below. Trawling will be undertaken during the hours of daylight which will vary depending on the vessels latitude at any given time. Following the conclusion of the previous two years tow duration experiment, towing time at each station is restored to 30 minutes as standard.
The GOV survey trawl with will be used solely with the 47m (short) sweeps throughout the survey. Two ground gear types will be used during the survey, the lighter “A” rig being used on all stations south of 57’30 N and the heavier “B” rig being used north of 57’30 N.
The SCANMAR system will be used to monitor the headline height, wing spread and door spread for each haul. Bottom contact data from each haul will also be collected using the NOAA bottom contact sensor which will be mounted in the centre of the ground gear.
In addition to the routine sampling utilising the EDC system, biological data will be collected for target species in line with the EU data regulation. All fish will be processed in accordance with Standing Instructions.
CTD casts (conductivity/temperature/depth), will be taken at every trawl station. These provide surface and bottom temperature and salinity information. Reverser bottles affixed to the CTD wire will also be used to collect water samples that will be analysed back at lab to provide information on salinities, nitrates, silicates and phosphates.
In addition, 35 (20 litre) carboys will be filled with sea water, according to the Water Collection SOP (0805 – Section 8.3.1) for the Chemistry department at the lab to use for nutrient analysis.
Hydrodynamic models are computer programs that simulate the movement, temperature, salinity and other properties of our seas. These models can complement observations to describe the physical marine environment in the past and the present, and provide forecasts.
Marine Scotland has led the development of a model for the Scottish continental shelf waters called the Scottish Shelf Model and in June, a workshop was held in Edinburgh to provide information about the SSM and its current applications, as well as providing an opportunity to get hands on experience using the model.
50 people from different sectors attended, including Universities, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and industry.
With help from a grant received from MASTS, Professor Changsheng Chen from the University of Massachusetts was also invited to attend the workshop. Professor Chen led the development of the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM) – the model on which the SSM is based – and his was very valuable and meant that a lot of questions regarding FVCOM and licensing constraints could be answered directly by the developer.
The workshop started with overview talks about the SSM, FVCOM and benefitted from talks by people who use the SSM for various applications such as renewable energy and marine connectivity estimates using particle tracking. Training was also available both through demonstrations as well as through hands-on practical exercises, including computational requirements, compiling and running FVCOM and the SSM, data extraction and manipulation of model outputs, as well as passive particle tracking simulations using the SSM output. The practical exercises were based on the demonstrations and gave attendees a great opportunity to learn more about the model requirements and how to use the model output.
On the final day of the workshop, a whole session was dedicated to industry, especially the aquaculture sector. This provided an opportunity for learning between sectors – Government and Industry – and it identified the potential of using the SSM to force smaller scale models.
One of the main aims of the workshop was to provide something for everyone, independent of previous experience. As a result the workshop contained lots of information and training possibilities and the received feedback has been really positive.
OSPAR countries have made significant efforts to reduce discharges, emissions, and losses of contaminants to both air and water. The effect of these efforts is clearly visible in reduced inputs to the Greater North Sea. The observed decreases in contaminant release from land-based sources and the offshore oil and gas industry show the continued progress since the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010). However, no changes have been detected in the amounts of dumped dredged material and associated contaminant loads to the OSPAR Maritime Area since the QSR 2010.
To assess progress towards the objectives of the North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy, OSPAR countries routinely measure levels of contaminants in the OSPAR Maritime Area: heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, and lead), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organotins and synthetic substances such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The selected contaminants are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, and will remain in the environment for many decades. Measurements focus on marine sediments and on organisms in which these contaminants tend to accumulate or through which they biomagnify up the food chain.
Since the QSR 2010, contaminant concentrations have continued to decrease in the majority of areas assessed, especially for PCBs. Although concentrations are generally below levels likely to harm marine species in the areas assessed, they mostly have not yet reduced to background levels (where these are specified). Concerns remain in some localised areas with respect to high levels of mercury, lead, and CB118 (one of the most toxic PCB congeners) and locally increasing concentrations of PAHs and cadmium in open waters.
Most OSPAR countries have opted to monitor the biological effects of organotin pollution, rather than tributyltin itself. The harmful effects of tributyltin on marine snails have continued to decrease markedly due to global action taken to ban or restrict its use in antifouling paints for ships.
Measures taken under the various European Union legislation are helping to reduce contaminant pollution.
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Madeira is a small (801 km2) volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean, almost due west of Marrakesh. With a total population not much larger than that of Aberdeen, this island relies heavily on tourism. In this context, it is perhaps not that surprising, that marine litter is something which they want to highlight.
When I walked into Camara de Lobos one evening I looked down the main street to the harbour and was very much taken by the colourful decorations that adorned the street. On closer inspection, however, my initial enjoyment turned to surprise when I realised that all the brightly coloured decorations were made from products common in marine litter – plastic bottles, tyres and bubble wrap. These plastic products had been used in imaginative ways to provide a colourful display, yet were a strong reminder of the impact that we are having on our marine environment.
Marine litter is now recognised as an issue of global concern, not only because of the impact that it has on biota through entanglement, but in addition, its accumulation in fulmar stomachs results in the birds being undernourished. The chemicals added to the plastics may desorb into the biota and add to the chemical loading of marine animals. Finally, plastics can absorb lipid loving chemicals from the water, effectively providing a concentrated dose to any animal that ends up consuming the plastic. Marine Scotland studies the presence and impact of marine litter on biota and actively contributes to UK and international assessments of the consequences of the plastic debris that is present in our seas.
Tagging continues in Armadale and the 1st of August heralded our highest daily tagging volume to date, with 17 salmon tagged. After 26 operational days we have now tagged over 60 salmon. We hope that we may benefit from a late grilse run, allowing us to get much nearer our 750 tagging target.
The post Keeping track at Armadale: Update two from the tracking project appeared first on Marine Scotland.
Figure 1: Map showing approximate location for mooring deployment
and transects for each zone
Duration: 31 July to 7 August 2017
2 x bird observer boxes (plus rubber matting)
1 x passive acoustic device and moorings
- To deploy a passive acoustic device on Rosemary Bank
- To collect data on bird and marine mammal observations along transects at three locations: Rosemary bank, the shelf edge and towards Rockall (see Fig. 1 above).
- To obtain sounder data whilst observing.
- To obtain thermosalinograph data whilst observing.
The survey is part of EXPOMAR which aims to bring together multiple offshore research and monitoring requirements under one streamlined project. EXPOMAR aims to deliver a combination of new exploration, development work, continued established monitoring and spatial planning of the deep sea and offshore environment.
The vast proportion of Scotland’s waters lie beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial limit and are thus classed as ‘offshore’. A number of offshore marine protected areas and special areas of conservation have been designated and these now need to be managed in relation to human activities such as fishing and oil and gas exploration and extraction. Monitoring is required to assess these management needs and determine their effectiveness as well as being a statutory requirement for reporting to Scottish Parliament, the European Commission and OSPAR.
It has been identified that there is limited information on ornithology and marine mammal observations and detections from these offshore waters. This survey aims to gain a better understanding of birds and marine mammals West of Scotland, with a focus on the Rosemary Bank Seamount Marine Protected Area (MPA) but also including the shelf edge and the area from the shelf edge towards Rockall (see Figure 1, above) through observations made by trained observers and the deployment of a passive acoustic device that can detect marine mammal vocalisations. Additional information will be collected on identifiable fish aggregations through the use of the ships sounder and also on sea temperature and salinity through the use of the thermosalinograph.
OSPAR collects data on authorised discharges and environmental activity concentrations for several radionuclides. For the purpose of evaluation, OSPAR distinguishes those radionuclides that emit alpha radiation (total alpha activity) and those that emit beta radiation (total beta activity).
Discharges from fuel reprocessing plants are much reduced but remain the dominant source of discharges from the nuclear sector, contributing approximately 90% of the total alpha activity and approximately 80% of the total beta activity (excluding tritium), in discharges over the assessment period (2007–2013).
The latest evaluation shows continued progress by OSPAR Countries towards the OSPAR objectives in the nuclear sector (fuel reprocessing plants, nuclear power plants, research and development facilities, and nuclear fuel production and enrichment). For 35 out of 53 (66%) of the assessments for the nuclear sector, there is evidence of substantial reductions in radioactive discharges since the baseline period (1995–2001). None of the assessments showed evidence of an increase in discharges.
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We blogged yesterday about the survey currently being undertaken on the German High Fleet in Scapa Flow. One of our scientists on board has sent us this update:
This survey is working in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland (HES), The Ministry of Defence (MOD), The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), Ulster University and other partners to survey the remains of wrecks around Orkney. To date, the survey has been going well with multibeam surveys completed on HMS Vanguard, HMS Hampshire and the German High Seas fleet (7 wrecks). ROV operations have also been undertaken on HMS Vanguard, HMS Hampshire and HMS Royal Oak.
We were unable to operate the multibeam from MRV Scotia over this last wreck as the hull extends to 4m below the surface. The image above is a partially processed multibeam image of the SMS Markgraf in Scapa Flow. The vessel was a Konig class battleship (146m) and part of the German High Seas fleet scuttled in 1919. The attached image is a 3D model which can be manipulated and turned to view incredible detail, and begin to measure any physical degradation against previous surveys last completed 10 years ago.
As with all surveys we have had to adapt our plans on a regular, if not hourly basis, to combat technical difficulties and working live with the data we are collecting. This has proved challenging for MS engineers along with Seatronics ROV operators, and intricate, close navigational skills from the Scotia master and crew.
We are now heading to multibeam (for the first time) HMS Pheasant, west of Hoy.
- Swathe multibeam echosounder system
- TV drop frame with armoured cable
- Scout System
- RoxAnn system
- Seatronics ROV
This project is a multidisciplinary collaborative project to undertake remote sensing and diver surveys of the High Seas Fleet and the War Graves HMS Hampshire, HMS Vanguard and HMS Royal Oak. Where possible, data will be also be collected of other submerged cultural heritage assets in Orkney waters.
The centenary of the High Seas Fleet will take place in 2019. This project, led by ORCA (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology) Marine, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, will include universities, commercial companies and government bodies. This project will conduct archival research, marine geophysical survey, remote archaeological evaluation, and diver survey. This will establish the extent, survival and character of the remains of the wrecks in Scapa Flow, Orkney. It is planned that this will coincide with the centenary commemorations of World War One.
This survey will employ a number of methods to image the wreck sites. The scope of work will include side scan sonar, multibeam echosounder survey and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The inspection class ROV will collect video/stills and photogrammetric data. The remains of the wreck sites will not be physically disturbed by any aspect of the proposed survey.
The archival research and archaeological remote evaluation surveys that comprise this project will lead to the provision of condition monitoring data, enhanced heritage displays, data for academic research, and activities and material for public engagement.
The project lead is ORCA Marine, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.
- Marine Scotland vessel MRV Scotia will be the work platform for data collection. Data collection will involve Marine Scotland undertaking MBES survey, providing calibrated unprocessed raw data and camera equipment for the acquisition of data.
- Seatronics: An Acteon Company will provide ROV, positioning and photogrammetric equipment for acquisition of data.
- Historic Environment Scotland will provide guidance on marine historic assets, survey targets and specialist knowledge on the wreck sites.
- Ulster University will provide input into the specifications for data acquisition for the geophysical and ROV surveys and provide input into maritime archaeological assessment and analysis.
- Heriot-Watt University will provide input into the specifications for data acquisition for the ROV survey and undertake marine biological studies on the submerged cultural heritage assets.
- SULA Diving will provide vessel transfers, organization of diving operations and dive team, along with providing input into the specifications for data acquisition for the geophysical and ROV surveys and provide input into site assessment and analysis.
- Ministry of Defence will provide input into the specifications for data acquisition for the geophysical and ROV surveys, and specialist knowledge on the wreck sites being investigated and environmental studies of the wreck sites.
- The University of Dundee will process MBES and ROV survey data and work to produce visualisations based on the collected data. This will involve the production of 3D models of the wreck sites from the multibeam echosounder and photogrammetric data.
The project will be conducted in liaison with the Ministry of Defence, Orkney Marine Services, Orkney Marine Skippers, and relevant authorities/ marine users, ensuring appropriate permissions are obtained before the work begins. The data and project archive will be deposited with Historic Environment Scotland in accordance with the standards established by the Marine Environmental Data Information Network (MEDIN).
On arrival to the survey site the vessel will undertake a multibeam survey of the wrecks in order of priority. Multibeam survey work will be conducted between 18:00 – 06:00 hrs with ROV operations undertaken between 06:00 – 18:00 hrs each day.
Information gathered during multibeam data collection will provide target locations for specific ROV investigation along with general mapping of each wreck site. Specific data line positions will be provided to the vessel prior to undertaking multibeam survey work.
The drop frame camera work will be used where appropriate, and as a backup for ROV operations.
The RoxAnn system will be run throughout the survey.
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Over the last month New Zealand’s Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre (PERC) has been hosting a conference to address social and environmental issues surrounding: toxicity, waste and plastic. The only difference being that this conference was a nearly carbon-neutral conference being held entirely online.
While traditional conferences involve academics flying from all over the world to a specific venue, emitting huge amounts of fossil fuels into the stratosphere, an online format means that there are no carbon costs associated with transportation.
Marine Scotland Science had the privilege of being asked to contribute to a particular week regarding Public Awareness of Marine Plastics. Our colleagues Prof Colin Moffat and Dr Marie Russell prepared a vast and thorough presentation, complete with narration, which now appears in week three of the conference entitled: The Evidence to Change the Culture – Issues Around Marine Litter
- The Lives and Afterlives of Plastic: A nearly carbon-neutral conference held entirely online
- Previous Marine Litter Blog Posts from Marine Scotland
- Marine Scotland Science
- Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre (PERC)
The post The Lives and Afterlives of Plastic: A nearly Carbon-Neutral Conference appeared first on Marine Scotland.
The last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010) highlighted, among other issues, that depletion of key predator and prey species and disruption of the marine foodweb were worrying ecosystem effects of fishing. The current indicators look at changes in population abundance of sensitive species, size composition, species composition, and the average trophic level of predators.
The current assessments indicate that fisheries management is beginning to have a positive impact on fish communities but show different responses at smaller geographic scales. The assessments indicate that deterioration has been halted and, in some areas, that fish communities are showing signs of recovery.
Trends in the proportion of large fish in the demersal fish community suggest recovery may continue in most of the areas assessed as long as current pressures do not increase.
OSPAR recognises the competence of national, international and European Union authorities to regulate fisheries and informs these fisheries authorities on any issue of concern it may have with respect to fisheries and the ecosystem.
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You might remember that at the beginning of July, we told you about a new salmon tracking project that was happening in the north of Scotland.
Tagging started on 7 July and by 14th July, we had tagged 36 grilse. tagging will continue in to Autumn-time and we will keep you updated with progress.
The post Keeping track at Armadale: Update one from the tracking project appeared first on Marine Scotland.
Always keen to invest in new talent, and promote women in science, Marine Scotland has taken on two students for two twelve-week placements under Equate Scotland’s Careerwise scheme. Careerwise is a partnership between industry and academia to:
- encourage the participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas;
- increase awareness of STEM occupations as viable career options for women; and
- increase employability skills in its participants.
Both placements are within the Fishery Analysis and Assessment Group of Marine Scotland Science; reporting on best practice for monitoring, control and surveillance for discards, and looking at the precision and accuracy of CCTV monitoring systems.
Welcome to both Kelly and Anastasia; we hope you enjoy your time with us and look forward to reviewing your findings and progress.
Exercise SAXON WARRIOR 17 (SW17) will take place between 1 and 10 August 2017, delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) from Faslane. The coordination of the administration and safety will be arranged in a similar way to a JOINT WARRIOR exercise.
SW17 is a programme of exercises conducted across the UK by warships, submarines and aircraft from 5 Nations. The maritime and air activity will be focussed in the airspace, offshore and coastal waters of the whole coast of Scotland and to a lesser extent South West Approaches to the UK. The booklet below provides outline information on scheduled activity including details of intended gunnery and aircraft bombing activity at Cape Wrath.
OSPAR is committed to protecting and conserving ecosystems and biodiversity through the management of human activities and is guided by an ecosystem-based approach. Benthic habitats play a key role in marine ecosystems because marine species rely directly or indirectly on the seafloor to feed, hide, rest or reproduce.
The last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010) highlighted a range of human activities with physical impacts on benthic habitats. Focus was given to the impact of benthic fishing on seabed habitats and associated benthic communities, especially on the continental shelf and in vulnerable marine ecosystems in the deep seas.
The development of a regional-scale assessment on physical disturbance from bottom contacting fishing since the QSR 2010 is a major step forward in assessing the scale of this impact. An important initial step towards this assessment was a first region-wide mapping of fishing pressure in 2013, which has since been updated annually. These data have now been combined with region-wide information on the distribution and sensitivity of benthic habitats. A first OSPAR assessment of physical disturbance from bottom trawling is now presented, which shows that 86% of the assessed areas in the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Seas are physically disturbed, of which 58% is highly disturbed. Consistent fishing pressure occurs in 74% of all assessed areas, which is very likely to affect the ability of habitats to recover.
Bottom fishing pressure is one of several pressures that need to be taken into consideration in assessing the cumulative effects of human activity on benthic habitats. In future, this indicator will be developed to include pressures other than bottom fishing.
Alongside this assessment, a new multi-metric approach has been developed to assess the condition of benthic habitats in relation to the full range of pressures, including from other human activities. First assessments under this approach examine the condition of coastal habitats in response to nutrient and organic enrichment and species diversity in subtidal sediments in the southern North Sea in response to physical disturbance caused by fishing.
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Last month our Ships Co-ordinator joined the Alba na Mara for a day to observe colleagues during the East Coast Scallop Dredging Survey 0917A. The aim of this visit was to get a better understanding of the scallop dredging process, the equipment and techniques used, and the challenges associated with this sampling method.
The feedback from the trip was that the scientists, skipper and crew aboard were really helpful; providing detailed explanations of procedures used and answering questions fully and with enthusiasm. The wheelhouse and deck operations, as well as the sampling processes, were expertly carried out and there were also some opportunities to discuss potential improvements during future operations.
Scallop dredge hauls were made at the sites shown below on Figure 1 for 30 minutes each time. From each haul all of the scallops were measured to the half centimetre below and aged. Numbers and size distribution of commercial fish and shellfish species were recorded; along with scallop shell damage, and starfish numbers and species. Scallops were also collected for genetic analysis.
Some of you may be aware of Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi (National Marine Plan interactive), Marine Scotland’s key tool for sharing data with stakeholders. It continues the innovation started by Scotland’s Marine Atlas and its follow up e-publication. It’s an online, interactive GIS-based tool allowing you to view different types of information, as map layers, at a scale of your choice.
Updates are happening regularly and in improvements made this week, users now have additional flexibility including:
- Keyword search – NMPi layers will be tagged with keywords and a new dialogue box is used to filter on them. For now the only ‘Vocabulary’ available is ‘layer properties’. This will allow users to identify, for example, all the layers that can be downloaded. Additional vocabularies will be developed in the future that will tag NMPi layers so allowing greater ease of finding data / information.
- Improved links for data download – in future rather than download data from NMPi, links will be provided from where data can be downloaded. For Marine Scotland data this will generally be a link to the appropriate SSDI (Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure, the Scottish INSPIRE portal) page where full metadata and files will be available. For 3rd party data (not previously available from NMPi) it could be to either that party’s SSDI page or other web page where data are available. MS links are available straight away. Marine Scotland will be providing signposts to 3rd party data sources rather than providing the actual data. We will populate 3rd party links over coming months.
- Links to Metadata – The Marine Scotland INFORMATION pages that support MAPS NMPi also contain some metadata for all the NMPi layers. These can now be accessed using the right click context menu and clicking on ‘Show Metadata’
- Refreshed icons – the opportunity has been taken to refresh the buttons on NMPI but their functionality remains the same.
- Time aware – when first activating the time aware function now (right click context menu), the first time period of data will show on screen. Previously all the data showed until you clicked the time aware start button. If you still wish to see all the data for the whole period of data included in the layer, do not activate time aware.
- Mobile site – small changes have been made to the way the layer control works on the mobile site which is accessed by users when on a tablet or phone.
More details about these changes can be found in our quarterly update report.
Marine birds are valuable indicators of ecosystem condition. OSPAR assesses the abundance and breeding success of marine birds.
In the Norwegian Arctic, the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Seas, there has been a considerable (>20%) drop in abundance compared to the levels observed 25 years ago, for more than a quarter of the marine bird species assessed. Frequent and widespread breeding failure has been observed for many species, especially those feeding on small fish in the surface waters of the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas. Prey availability is likely to be driven by ecosystem-specific changes, possibly impacted by commercial fisheries and climate change.
In the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), OSPAR highlighted the occurrence of breeding failure in parts of the Greater North Sea and the Arctic, and stressed the need for research into links between environmental factors and the long-term health of marine bird populations.
Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from uly 2017 and would like your help!
Atlantic salmon can migrate thousands of miles – from home rivers to high seas feeding grounds, and back to spawn – but how they find their home river remains a mystery.
A number of historic tagging studies have shown that fish captured in coastal nets at one location have then been recaptured in nets much further around the coast, but our picture of homing movements is very patchy.
To try and address this, these data are being augmented by a modern acoustic tracking study due to commence in July this year. Up to 750 salmon will be captured in a net fishery on the north coast of Scotland and fitted with miniature transmitters. A network of receivers is being deployed around Scotland to detect where those fish then go. The study will add to our knowledge of the extent to which coastal fisheries impact of different rivers as well as increasing our understanding of salmon homing behaviour.
If you catch a salmon with a tag (as shown in the attached photograph) near the dorsal fin, then please remove it by cutting through the plastic cord to remove the acoustic black cylinder). Please note that the colour of the cord may vary from yellow.
Please send the acoustic tag, also with a note of day and location of capture, to:
Armadale Tracking, Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory,
Please enclose your name, postal and email (if applicable) address and we will send you £20 in reward.
If you have any other information about the fish (eg a photo, length, sex) then please nclude it when you send in the tag. However, please do not delay the safe return of the fish to the water to obtain any such information.
The Armadale Tracking Team
Considerable progress has been made in developing OSPAR’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network.
Since the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), a further 289 MPAs have been added to the network, bringing the total number to 448. MPAs now cover 5.9% of the OSPAR Maritime Area compared with a total coverage of only 1.1% in 2010.
OSPAR is undertaking further work to understand what constitutes an ecologically-coherent and well-managed MPA network, and additional efforts are needed to implement the management measures necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs.
Successful ecosystem-based management of the OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) requires coordination between the organisations responsible for regulating human activities in these areas. As a start, OSPAR and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) have an ongoing arrangement in place to take into account each other’s objectives and activities.
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