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Marine Habitat Mapping

JNCC creates and collates marine habitat maps to help target conservation and management of human activities at sea. All our data are published freely.

Areas of Work

Our marine habitat mapping work falls in three categories:

  1. We create new habitat maps using the data collected from offshore surveys. These detailed maps help to characterise sites that have never been surveyed before and provide a snapshot in time to help us monitor changes in habitat extent. See:
  2. We compile habitat maps from multiple sources into composite products that target specific questions, such as ‘where are all the cold-water coral reefs in the UK?’ and ‘what proportion of the seafloor is rocky?’ The most widely-used products are:
  3. Where detailed data are sparse we predict the extent of habitats based on other information such as depth, sediment type and other environmental conditions, see:


Use of Information

The information gained through this work is used to:

  • Provide evidence for JNCC’s operational work, such as characterising and monitoring marine protected areas in UK waters beyond 12 nm from the coast.
  • Provide standardised, consistent evidence for UK-wide and international assessments of the health of the marine environment.
  • Meet the requirements of specific externally-funded projects, such as:
    • JNCC leads the EU-funded EMODnet Seabed Habitats project, which is responsible for the production of the EUSeaMap broad-scale seabed habitat map and the EMODnet Seabed Habitats portal, which provides free access to marine habitat maps across Europe.
    • JNCC co-leads WP4 of the EMOD-PACE project, a collaboration between Europe and China which aims to promote international ocean governance and support the implementation of global commitments through shared access to high-quality marine data and data products.

Much of this work is done in collaboration with other UK public bodies and project partners from across Europe.


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