Today marks the publication of a landmark study by scientists from the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), which has been funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Marine Management Organisation, the Crown Estate, the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association and the Welsh Government.
A big data approach to macrofaunal baseline assessment, monitoring and sustainable exploitation of the seabed
The study ‘A big data approach to macrofaunal baseline assessment, monitoring and sustainable exploitation of the seabed’ has been published in the Scientific Reports journal and provides a new insight into the distribution of seabed animal communities throughout UK, which will facilitate a new approach to monitoring the environmental effects of offshore industries.
The study collates and standardises nearly half a century of UK seabed grab survey data, from multiple sources in industry and government, demonstrating the benefits of joined up working between government and industry.
The new approach uses this big dataset to better understand natural variability, which in turn will help identify which impacts are likely to be ecologically significant. This will then allow developers to adapt their activity to make it more environmentally sustainable.
The paper also provides details of the Regional Seabed Monitoring Plan (RSMP), a new cost effective approach for monitoring the impacts of marine aggregate dredging on the seabed. This plan aims to ensure that the seabed is left in a condition which will allow for recolonisation after dredging, thereby improving the environmental sustainability of this activity, whilst also reducing the survey effort for industry.
You can read the full paper in the Scientific Reports Journal.