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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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Updating Fisheries Sensitivity Maps in British Waters

Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 5 No 10

The requirement to display sensitive areas relating to the life history of commercially important fish species in British waters is well recognized. Sensitive areas have previously been described as spawning and nursery grounds. Here we consider only areas where there is evidence of aggregations of 0 group fish and/or larvae of key commercial species. 0 group fish are defined as fish in the first year of their lives. These fish sensitivity maps were originally generated to provide a spatial and temporal description of where physical damage could potentially occur to fish species at sensitive stages in essential habitats of their life cycle. Sources of damage in this context referred to seismic surveying conducted by the offshore Oil and Gas industry during their site investigations. In addition to the acoustic energy that the seismic survey activities generate, we should now add other percussive impact noises from pile-driving seabed foundation pins into the seabed, such as those required for offshore renewable energy sites. The spatial location of these fish life history events and their potential interaction with offshore industries can heavily influence the planning, costs and delivery of these offshore developments. It is imperative that these maps reflect the current extent of these areas.

Aires, C., González-Irusta, J.M., Watret, R. (2014) Updating Fisheries Sensitivity Maps in British Waters. Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 5 No 10. Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 88pp. DOI: 10.7489/1555-1

Data and Resources

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
UK waters
UK Open Government Licence (OGL)
Aires, C.
Data Dictionary

Data on the distribution of fish species in British waters are collected yearly through the regular stock monitoring surveys as conducted by European marine research institutes in their role as fisheries data suppliers to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Data used for this update have again been taken from various of these available sources including the National and International Bottom Trawl Surveys (BTS, IBTS), Beam Trawl Surveys (BTS) and International Herring Larval Surveys (IHLS). In addition to these, commercial fishing observer trips and stand-alone surveys to investigate particular issues have provided further data on the distribution of 0 group fish of relevant species. As well as new and additional data, different data analysis techniques have been used to generate alternative outputs from the existing survey datasets. The principal analysis technique used was Species Distribution Modelling (SDM), also known as Habitat Suitability Models or Ecological Niche Models. These models combine observations of species occurrence or abundance with environmental data

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Marine Scotland Science
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