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Hatton Bank MPA

Status: Candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC)

Hatton Bank is a large volcanic bank, situated in the Atlantic North-West Approaches, towards the western extent of the UK Continental Shelf. 

Site

Situated in the Atlantic North-West Approaches, towards the western extent of the UK Continental Shelf, Hatton Bank is a large volcanic bank. It is an elongate, arc-shaped bank, stretching nearly 500 km in length and rising up to 1 km above the surrounding seafloor.

The vast size and topographic complexity of the Hatton Bank supports a wide diversity of biological communities, each associated with different seafloor structures and substratum types. The bedrock, cobbles and coral rubble are home to rich coral gardens and deep-sea sponge aggregations, and the distinct pinnacles and mounds support elaborate cold-water coral reefs.

More detailed site information can be found within the Summary section below.

Map displaying the Hatton Bank MPA boundary and associated protected feature data. Visit JNCC's MPA Mapper to further view and explore data for this MPA.

Map showing Hatton Bank Marine Protected Area and linking to the MPA mapper

Legislation

Legislation behind the designation: EU Habitats Directive 1992 transposed into UK law by the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended).

 

Protected Features

Feature Feature Type
1170 Reefs Annex I habitat

Specific information on the conservation objectives relating to this site is provided in the Conservation Advice section.

The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up-to-date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA Mapper, and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Monitoring and Evidence section.

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Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of Hatton Bank cSAC. More detail can be found in the Relevant Documentation section below.

February 2009
Site formally recommended to the UK Government as a draft Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
December 2011
Site formally recommended to Marine Directorate.
February 2012 – May 2012
Formal public consultation. Site becomes a possible SAC.
October 2012
Site submitted to the European Commission. The Habitats Regulations now formally apply to this MPA.
November 2013
Site approved by the European Commission as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC).
January 2013 – December 2015
Implementation and alterations of measures made by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) which prohibits all fishing within the cSAC boundary.

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Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to the Hatton Bank cSAC were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.  This Site Information Centre is the most up-to-date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced. Information about the SAC site selection process is available on JNCC's SAC webpages.

These resources are available on JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Summary

Last updated: October 2017

Information for this site summary was adapted from the SAC Selection Assessment Document and incorporates any further information gathered since this document was produced. Please refer to this document in the Relevant Documentation section for further details and information sources. 

 

Site overview

Hatton Bank is a large volcanic bank, situated in the Atlantic North-West Approaches, towards the western extent of the UK Continental Shelf. The water depth across the bank ranges from less than 500 m on the northern part of the bank, to over 1,000 m at the base. At its south-eastern tip, an igneous complex called Lyonesse forms a topographic high, rising to 520 m below sea-level, some 350 m shallower than the surrounding bank.

The vast size and topographic complexity of the Hatton Bank supports a wide diversity of biological communities, each associated with different geomorphological structures and substratum types present on the bank. Much of the seabed on Hatton Bank comprises coarse sandy sediment; however the bank also supports extensive areas of bedrock reef (particularly on the ridges along the top of the bank), as well as many areas of stony reef. Iceberg ploughmarks, a variant of stony reef that are shaped by the movement of icebergs during the last ice age, have also been recorded within the cSAC.

The hard substrata provided by the boulders, cobbles and bedrock reef support a rich diversity of species, including scleractinian corals, stylasterids ('lace' corals), antipatharians ('black' corals), soft corals, cup corals and gorgonian sea fans; as well as a range of sponges; sessile sea cucumbers; anemones and brachiopods. The presence of coral gardens has been confirmed on the bedrock, cobbles and coral rubble on Hatton Bank within the cSAC boundary.Deep-sea sponge aggregations have also been confirmed within the site boundary, comprising high densities of vase-shaped glass sponges. Both of these habitats are considered to be Threatened and/or Declining across the North-east Atlantic by the OSPAR Commission.

Primarily found in the southern region and across the north-west Hatton Bank outcrops, the elaborate cold-water coral reefs are associated with pinnacles and mounds, and can be tens of metres in height and hundreds of metres wide. Their intricate structure is formed by both the Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata species, which, in association with the surrounding dead coral framework, support a range of associated fauna. Lophelia pertusa reefs are also considered to be Threatened and/or Declining across the North-east Atlantic by OSPAR. Further detail on the evidence for this cSAC can be found in the Monitoring and Evidence section.

Site location: Co-ordinates for this cSAC can be found in the Standard Data Form listed in the Relevant Documentation section.

Site area: 15,694 km2

Site depth range: The shallowest area of the MPA is approximately 460 m below sea-level, and the deepest section is 1,740 m below sea-level.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Atlantic North-West Approaches, Rockall Trough and Faroe-Shetland Channel.

Site boundary description: Due to the size of the Hatton Bank and the limited number of scientific surveys undertaken in this area, survey data is not comprehensive across the full extent of the site. However, JNCC considers that there is sufficient up-to-date information with which to delineate a scientifically valid boundary that encompasses the known records of the reef feature on Hatton Bank. Data to inform the boundary is derived from a number of different sources, summarised in the Monitoring and Evidence section.

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Monitoring and Evidence

Last updated: November 2023

The full overview of the various data used to support site identification, along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the Hatton Bank SAC Selection Assessment Document. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to its MPA Mapper in due course.

Some of the data for this cSAC has been collected through JNCC-funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means.  Data from these surveys provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected feature within the site.

 

Survey and data gathering

  • ECOVUL/ARPA program (2005–2007) – Led by the Spanish Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), this work aimed to investigate vulnerable deep‐sea habitats between depths of 1,000–1,500 m below sea-level on the western and north-western flanks of the bank. Both multibeam survey and high resolution seismic profiles of large areas of the western flank of the bank were conducted, supported by biological survey in the form of bottom trawl, dredge and box core sampling.

 

Data analysis reports

 

Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the Selection Assessment Document. Please be aware that although these sources contain information which is of interest in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.

  • Sayago-Gil, M., Durán-Muñoz, P., Murillo, F.J., Díaz-del-Río, V., Serrano, A. and Fernández-Salas, L.M. (2012) A study of geomorphological features of the seabed and the relationship to deep-sea communities on the western slope of Hatton Bank (NE Atlantic Ocean). In: Harris, P.T. and Baker, E.K. (eds) Seafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat. Elsevier. 751–761. – Details the type of benthic communities associated with the seabed morphology and substrate between 600 m and 2,000 m depth.
  • Sayago-Gil, M., Long, D., Hitchen, K., Díaz-del-Río, V., Fernández-Salas, L.M. and Durán-Muñoz, P. (2010) Evidence for current-controlled morphology along the western slope of Hatton Bank (Rockall Plateau, NE Atlantic Ocean). Geo-Marine Letters, 30, 99–111. – Lends further evidence to the extent and type of geomorphological features along the Western slope of the Bank.
  • Roberts, J.M., Henry, L.A., Long, D. and Hartley, J.P. (2008). Cold-water coral reef frameworks, megafaunal communities and evidence for coral carbonate mounds on the Hatton Bank, north east Atlantic. Facies, 54, 297–316. – The first reported evidence for coral carbonate mound development in UK waters, suggesting that mound formation occurs through successive periods of coral framework growth and sedimentation.

 

Knowledge gaps

As part of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS), JNCC led the development of a UK Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Strategy, working with partners across the UK monitoring community. The Strategy spans UK territorial and offshore waters, focusing on biodiversity in the wider environment and within Marine Protected Areas.  Its aim is to implement efficient, integrated monitoring of marine biodiversity to provide the evidence needed for all the UK's policy drivers.

The Marine Directorate of Scottish Government, in partnership with JNCC and NatureScot, developed a Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) monitoring strategy. The Strategy spans Scottish territorial and offshore waters, focusing on biodiversity within Marine Protected Areas. The Strategy is supported by a series of annexes which provide more detail on monitoring methods, collaborative working, current monitoring and a two year forward look for MPA monitoring in Scottish waters.

The evidence collected during MPA monitoring surveys is used in combination with other available evidence to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Contribute to the assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and,
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required.

More detail on offshore MPA monitoring can be found on the Offshore MPA monitoring webpage. A list of monitoring surveys and relevant reports can be found on the MPA monitoring survey reports webpage.

If you are aware of any additional data or relevant scientific papers for this site not referred to in the Evidence above, or in the Hatton Bank Selection Assessment Document provided in the Relevant Documentation section, please contact us.

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Conservation Advice

Last updated March 2018

Updated formal conservation advice is now available for this MPA.  Further information on the approach used to develop this advice is available on the Conservation Advice webpages along with a Glossary of Terms used in JNCC's conservation advice and a short video explaining how to use the conservation advice packages. 

You must refer to this advice if you:

  • undertake a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) for a plan or project that could impact the site;
  • provide information for a HRA;
  •  respond to specific measures to support delivery of the conservation objectives for the site; and 
  • consider the need to put new or additional management measures in place.

You may also find it useful to refer to this advice if you:

  • Carry out any other activity that could impact the site.

We will engage with stakeholders to identify any lessons which JNCC can learn from customers who have used the advice, with a view to continuing to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.

The following table provides an overview of the components of the conservation advice, and provides hyperlinks to each of the products for this MPA. These elements together form JNCC’s formal conservation advice for this site and should be read in conjunction with each other. This updated advice replaces the previous Regulation 18 package for the site. This advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by JNCC (correct as of March 2018). 

Document Overview
Background Information Explains the purpose of the advice and when it must be referred to.

Conservation Objectives

Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO)

The Conservation Objectives set out the broad ecological aims for the site. JNCC provides supplementary advice in the SACO which is essential reading to support interpretation of these conservation objectives.

You can use these documents to assess the impacts of your planned activity on the important attributes of the site.

Conservation advice statements

These statements provide a summary of the Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO).

  • Site condition presents our up-to-date understanding of the condition of features within the site;
  • Conservation benefits which the site can provide, these help you understand what is important about the site and why it needs protecting; and
  • Conservation measures which JNCC considers are needed to support achievement of the conservation objectives. These provide clarity around measures needed to support restoration or maintenance of the feature(s) within the site.
Advice on operations Provides information on the activities capable of affecting site integrity and therefore achievement of the site’s conservation objectives.
This is a starting point for determining potential management requirements. It does not take into account the intensity, frequency or cumulative impacts from activities taking place. It is simply to advise you of the possible adverse impacts that your activity can have on a MPA’s features.
Use the advice on operations to determine those pressures your activity causes that could harm the habitat and/or species features of the site.

These resources are available on JNCC's Resource Hub.

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