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Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Reports

Formal report series, containing results of research and monitoring carried out by Marine Scotland Science


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Data Mining of the Nephrops Survey Database to Support the Scottish MPA Project

Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Volume 3 Number 9

Marine Scotland Science conducts annual underwater television surveys to estimate the abundance of Nephrops norvegicus on muddy sediments in seas around Scotland. Underwater footage is recorded to DVD and reviewed by two independent observers. Nephrops burrows are counted and burrow densities over each survey tow are estimated from the average counts and viewed area. Additional data are also collected during the surveys, including sediment samples and observations on sea pen abundance, presence of fish and other benthic species and evidence of anthropogenic activities (trawl marks). All survey data are held in a purpose designed database, the ‘Nephrops survey database’. In 2010, following discussions with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, it was agreed that data within the Nephrops survey database would be used to assist with the Scottish Marine Protected Area project, specifically the mapping of burrowed mud and offshore deep mud habitats (biotopes). This report documents work carried out, including summaries for each area surveyed and maps based on Geographic Information System layers.

Allan, L., Demain, D., Weetman A., Dobby, H., McLay, A. 2012. Data Mining of the Nephrops Survey Database to Support the Scottish MPA Project.Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 3 No 9. Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 35pp. DOI: 10.7489/1544-1
Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Scottish Seas
Temporal Coverage
2008-01-01 to 2010-12-31
UK Open Government Licence (OGL)
Allan, L., Demain, D., Weetman A., Dobby, H., and McLay, A.
Data Dictionary

Initially, much of the work carried out for the MPA data mining project involved populating MSS’ Nephrops survey database with all the data available from the recent UWTV surveys, i.e. those conducted from 2008 to 2010, inclusive. The database was developed with Microsoft Access and consists of twelve tables which can be broadly separated into those concerned with UWTV survey data and those containing trawl data (Figure 4). Relevant tables for this study included “Station info” which contains spatial information for each UWTV station and details on the occurrence of sea pens and other fauna and flora, and “PSA” which contains the results of the sediment analysis. Relationships are established between tables so that the database can be queried quickly and required data extracted. The Nephrops survey database was in its infancy at the time the data mining project was initiated and incorporation of (historical) data from earlier surveys continues as ‘work in progress' A second aspect of the work was to compare MSS’ ROCA abundance scale with the six point MNCR (Marine Nature Conservation Review) SACFOR (Super abundant, Abundant, Common, Frequent, Occasional, Rare) scale used by JNCC, to record the abundance or density of a variety of benthic flora and fauna. For the SCAFOR scale, different ranges of densities apply depending on the size of the organism. Please see the PDF report for additional details.

Contact Name
Marine Scotland Science Enquiries
Contact Email
Public Access Level