To the west of Scotland, adjacent to the boundary with Irish waters, the Barra Fan and Hebrides Terrace Seamount MPA follows the seabed as it descends into the deep Rockall Trough. The ‘Fan’ was created when a large build-up of sediments underwent a series of submarine landslides. They have subsequently been modified by water currents, and were long ago gouged by icebergs grounding on the seabed during past ice ages.
The MPA includes the Hebrides Terrace seamount, a remnant of an ancient volcano. The seamount supports a diverse range of sea life, including cold-water corals, deep-sea sponges, and fish species such as orange roughy. The eastern part of the MPA descends into the deep sea. The area is characterised by sands and gravels, as well as pockets of burrowed mud. The deep-sea mud habitat on the slope is home to worms and other creatures adapted to living on and buried in the seabed.
The Hebrides Terrace seamount at the west of the MPA rises to almost 1km above the surrounding seabed. The seamount is thought to be significant to the health of Scotland’s seas due its effect on the movement of underwater currents, which bring a good supply of food to the area. The resulting rich diversity supports many fish species, which in turn attract larger marine animals, such as sharks and whales.
The current conservation objective is to conserve the protected features of this MPA.
More detail on the designation is available from the JNCC website.
The final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment for this MPA is available to view.