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Site Information Centres – 'one stop shops' for offshore Marine Protected Area information

Case Study 2019

Site Information Centres – 'one stop shops' for offshore Marine Protected Area information

For over a decade, JNCC has been delivering high quality scientific advice to UK governments and working very closely with the country nature conservation bodies on the selection and designation of over 50 offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Following designation, JNCC is responsible for raising general awareness of the offshore (often lesser-known) MPAs amongst the general public and providing specific advice to marine users on the conservation objectives for each site and the impact that human activities can have on their protected habitats and species.

To achieve these twin aims, JNCC has developed online Site Information Centres (SICs) which act as a ‘one stop shop’ for a wide range of material about the UK’s offshore MPAs. Through these SICs, JNCC conveys often complex information in an engaging and accessible style suitable for a wide range of stakeholders – industry, regulators, competent authorities, academics, conservationists and everyone who is interested in marine life.

Importantly, the SICs host JNCC’s formal conservation advice ‘package’ for each MPA which provides specific guidance to support marine users in making their own assessments as to the degree to which marine activities may impact the achievement of a site’s conservation objectives.

This advice is developed on the best-available evidence, whether through data gathered from monitoring surveys, or our understanding of how human activities and protected habitats and species in MPAs interact to affect site condition. The advice is updated as necessary to reflect any changes in the ecological condition of the site or its features.

 

The Site Information Centre approach

The SICs are carefully structured to make it easy for stakeholders to access the content they need.

Each SIC provides a map of the MPA site showing the extent and distribution of protected features; a gallery of images from the site; a site timeline; details of the legislation which the site has been designated under; and other documentation related to the site’s designation.

Further content is provided within six separate sections:

  • a Summary section with a detailed description of the site and its protected features;
  • an Evidence section outlining data regarding the presence and extent of protected features of the site;
  • a Conservation Advice section which sets out the full conservation objectives for the site, condition of the protected features, benefits of the MPA and advice on operations which are capable of affecting the protected features of the site;
  • an Activities and Management section that describes our understanding of the activities occurring within the site and any available information on the management of these activities;
  • a Monitoring section that provides information on monitoring activities within the site;
  • an Assessment section that has information on how the condition of the protected features has been assessed against legal obligations.

 

JNCC has also worked with partners to produce a short video for most of the offshore MPAs which can be found on the SICs, highlighting each site’s protected features.

Another option for marine users wishing to explore MPA sites is JNCC’s MPA Mapper. This is an online interactive map hosted on the JNCC website which provides users with MPA boundary information and information on the distribution and extent of marine habitats and species protected within the UK MPA network. Users can turn layers on and off, zoom and pan to explore the UK’s MPA network and the evidence underpinning JNCC’s advice. This is accessible by clicking on the site map in each Site Information Centre.

 

Further work

The development of SICs is just one aspect of JNCC’s work on supporting the establishment and management of evidence-based MPAs in the UK’s offshore environment.

We are able to provide comprehensive training covering the whole lifecycle of an MPA, and to advise on MPA network assessments.

 

Team:  Marine Ecosystems

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