Shiant East Bank pMPA
Shiant East Bank pMPA is in the middle of the Minch, the sea which separates the Outer Hebrides from the Scottish mainland. The proposed protected features are circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities, northern sea fan and sponge communities, and shelf banks and mounds. The site is made up of mosaics of sand and mixed sediment which support species such as worms, clams, brittlestars, crabs and starfish. Outcrops of volcanic rock provide habitat for filter feeders such as northern sea fans and sponges.
Conservation Objectives and Management Advice
The conservation objectives of this site are to conserve the features, meaning to keep the status of the features in favourable condition. This does not include where there is alteration of the feature through natural processes.
Circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities are sensitive to physical disturbance. Northern sea fan and sponge communities are sensitive to physical disturbance, organic enrichment and siltation changes. The extent and distribution of these features should be conserved, along with the physical structure and function of the features. Also, the diversity, abundance and distribution of characteristic species should be maintained.
The management advice to achieve these conservation objectives includes:
- Limit impacts from new cables and pipelines by siting to avoid sensitive epifauna and minimising footprint;
- Exclusion of demersal mobile gear from northern sea fan and sponge communities and reduction of demersal mobile gear from circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities;
- Reduction of static fishing gear from circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities; and
- Minimising pressures from survey work through best practice.
Shelf banks and mounds may be sensitive to changes to tidal flow and physical changes to the seabed. SNH advises that the extent and distribution of the feature, functions of the feature supporting processes should be maintained. There is no management advice for shelf banks and mounds.
The geodiversity feature, Quaternary of Scotland, is highly resistant to human pressures. SNH advises that in order to conserve this feature, the extent and integrity of the feature should be maintained, functions of the feature should be maintained and the surface of the feature should be unobstructed. There is no management advice for Quaternary of Scotland.
The SEA concluded that, under the intermediate management scenario, designation of the Shiant East Bank pMPA could have a moderate beneficial impact on the environment and provide potential for future benefits. Reduction in certain fishing gears would provide moderate environmental benefits and have the potential for minor spillover benefits outside the site. The negative impacts from fishing displacement would be negligible and these will be outweighed by the benefits of reducing fishing pressures.
Table 5 shows the cost impacts from the Shiant East Bank pMPA for relevant sectors. The SEIA found that the only sectors with economic impacts, under the intermediate scenario, would be commercial fisheries and telecommunication cables. The GVA impacts are attributed to the exclusion of mobile gear from northern sea fan and sponge communities and from 20% of circalittoral sand. The gear type most affected by this is demersal trawls for Nephrops. There are also high costs to telecommunication cables under the upper scenario due to a possible need to replace a cable which currently runs through the site, and which may need to be rerouted to avoid the sensitive habitat.
Table 5: Quantified Economic Costs for the Shiant East Bank pMPA (£'000) costs discounted over assessment period (2019-2038), 2019 prices
|Sector||Lower Estimate||Intermediate Estimate||Upper Estimate|
|Commercial Fisheries (GVA)||0||177||296|