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North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA

Please be advised that an MPA monitoring survey was undertaken in Dolphin Head HPMA and North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA over the period of 13 September to 10 October 2023. Further information is available in the survey blog – this will be found on JNCC’s blog.

 

Status: Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) / Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA)

The North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA is located approximately 55 km offshore from the north Northumberland coast, in the northern North Sea. This site information centre details information for both the North East of Farnes Deep MPA, designated in 2013, and the North East of Farnes Deep HPMA, designated in 2023 and which overlaps entirely with the existing MPA.

JNCC will dispense its obligations under Section 127 of the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009) for both North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA through the delivery of its conservation advice for the HPMA. For further information please see the Conservation Advice section below. 

Site

Located approximately 55 km offshore from the north Northumberland Coast, in the northern North Sea, the North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA is situated in an area of predominantly sandy sediment, and also include patches of gravelly sand and mud.

The seabed within the MPA and HPMA (herein referred to as ‘the site’) is a mix of highly mosaiced habitats, ranging from coarse sediments through to mixed sediments and mud. These are relatively stable habitats present, which support a diverse range of marine flora and fauna such as anemones, worms, molluscs, echinoderms and fish species.

North East of Farnes Deep was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone in January 2013 for subtidal coarse sediment and subtidal sand, with additional features subtidal mixed sediments, subtidal mud and Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) designated in January 2016. North East of Farnes Deep was also designated as a HPMA in June 2023, extending protection to the entire marine ecosystem (seabed, water column, processes and all species) within the site.

More detailed site information can be found in the Site Timeline section and Summary section below.

Map displaying the North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA boundary and associated protected feature data. Visit JNCC's MPA Mapper to further view and explore data for this MPA and HPMA.

Map showing North East of Farnes Deep Marine Protected Area and linking to the MPA mapper

Legislation

Legislation behind the designation: Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009).

 

Protected Features

Protected Feature of the North East of Farnes Deep HPMA
Description
The marine ecosystem of the area All marine flora and fauna, all marine habitats and all geological or geomorphological interests, including all abiotic elements and all supporting ecosystem functions and processes, in the seabed, water column and the surface of the sea.

 

Protected Features of the North East of Farnes Deep MPA Feature type
Subtidal coarse sediment Broad-Scale Habitat
Subtidal sand Broad-Scale Habitat
Subtidal mixed sediments Broad-Scale Habitat
Subtidal mud Broad-Scale Habitat
Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) Species Feature of Conservation

Specific information on the conservation objective relating to North East of Farnes Deep HPMA 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 evidence underpinning our knowledge of this site can be viewed in the Evidence section.

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Site Timeline

After regional projects recommended Marine Conservation Zones (rMCZs) to Defra and the statutory nature conservation bodies in 2011, a formal public consultation on Tranche One rMCZs was held between December 2012 and March 2013, which resulted in North East of Farnes Deep being designated as an MCZ in November 2013. Additional features for the site were included in the formal public consultation on Tranche Two rMCZs between January and April 2015 and were officially designated in January 2016. In 2021, the area was identified as a candidate pilot Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) by JNCC through the English pilot HPMA process. It was subsequently designated in June 2023 as a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) and overlaps entirely with the underlying MCZ.

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of the North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA.  More detail can be found in the Relevant Documentation section below.

September 2011
Regional projects recommended a total of 127 Marine Conservation Zones (rMCZs) to Defra and the statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs).
November 2013
After a formal public consultation between December 2012 and March 2013 for Tranche One rMCZs, North East of Farnes Deep was designated as a MCZ.
January 2016
After a formal public consultation between January and April 2015 for Tranche Two rMCZs, additional features for North East of Farnes Deep were designated.
June 2021
Following recommendations of the Benyon Review, Defra committed to identify and designate pilot Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters.
August 2021 to September 2021
Five candidate HPMAs selected after social and economic criteria were applied to 30 areas of ecological interest identified by JNCC and Natural England.
July 2022 to September 2022
Formal public consultation on five pilot HPMAs – North East of Farnes Deep included.
June 2023
North East of Farnes Deep designated as pilot HPMA.

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Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to the North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA 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 site and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced.

JNCC's MCZ webpage provides further information about the Marine Conservation Zone site selection process and historic MCZ advice. Further information about the Highly Protected Marine Area site selection process and historic advice is available on JNCC’s HPMA webpage.

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Summary

Last updated: July 2023

The information for this site summary was adapted from documents listed in the Evidence section. Please refer to this section for further details and information sources. The summary also incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced.

 

Site overview

The North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA has a mix of highly mosaiced habitats ranging from coarse sediments such as sand, where several species of filter feeding sponges have been identified, through to mixed sediment areas and mud dominated seabed habitats. These wide-ranging, mostly stable habitats, support high levels of biodiversity in comparison to the wider Northern North Sea region, with at least 263 benthic and demersal species recorded. These include the phosphorescent sea pen (Pennatula phosphorea), common dragonet (Callionymus lyra), and squat lobsters that occur in relatively large numbers across the area, as well as the long-lived ocean quahog (Arctica islandica), a type of mollusc which is under threat across the broader North-east Atlantic. The complex sediment-dominated seabed habitats in this area are also important for the key life-cycle for a range of species including birds, marine mammals and fish. This includes spawning and nursery habitats for up to ten commercially important fish species. Furthermore, several mobile species have been recorded in this area, including the rare and regionally distinctive European smelt (Osmerus eperlanus), which is prey for larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. At least seven nationally important seabird species and five marine mammal species have also been recorded within this area, including the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and white beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris).

The large areas of muddy habitats, which cover over 27 km² (over 5% by area), are thought to be an important habitat for the storage of carbon. Overall, in English waters, seabed mud habitats have been identified to have a large stock of sequestered carbon, highlighting the importance of protecting and recovering this habitat as a nature-based solution to tackling climate change. This is the only offshore HPMA with blue carbon habitats.

The site depth ranges between 50 m and 100 m below chart datum; the deepest section of the site runs parallel to the western boundary and the shallowest section is in the south-east quarter. Geological/geomorphological seabed forms are present in the site and are of a depositional glacial nature and comprise part of the North-East Bank seabed mound or pinnacle.

Defra responded to the recommendations of the Benyon Review and committed to designate a number of pilot HPMAs in English waters. Following the analysis of responses from a public consultation, North East of Farnes Deep was also designated as a HPMA in June 2023; extending protection to the entire marine ecosystem (seabed, water column, processes and all species) within the site.

Further detail on the evidence for this site can be found in the Evidence section.

Site location: Co-ordinates for this site can be found in the Designation Orders for both the MCZ and the HPMA listed in the Relevant Documentation section.

Site area: 492 km2.

Site depth range: The site depth ranges between 50 m and 100 m below chart datum; the deepest section of the site runs parallel to the western boundary and the shallowest section is in the south-east quarter.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Northern North Sea.

Site boundary description: The boundaries of the North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA are simple rectangles that fully overlap, with the longest boundaries aligned broadly north–south.

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Evidence

Last updated: July 2023

The full overview of the various data used to support the North East of Farnes Deep MPA site identification, along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in JNCC's advice on offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2013, as well as the JNCC pre-consultation and post-consultation scientific advice for Tranche Two offshore Marine Conservation Zones proposed for designation in 2016.

The full overview of the various data used to support the North East of Deep HPMA site identification in alignment with the selected ecological criteria is available in JNCC’s pre-consultation advice and post-consultation advice for Highly Protected Marine Areas proposed for designation in 2023.

JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA and HPMA to its MPA mapper in due course.

Some of the data for this site have been collected through JNCC-funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means. 

 

Survey and data gathering

 

Data analysis reports

Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the annexes of our advice within the Relevant Documentation Section. Please be aware that although these sources contain information in relation to this site, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.

  • Carter, M.I.D., Boehme, L., Duck, C.D. et al. (2020) Habitat-based predictions of at-sea distribution for grey and harbour seals in the British Isles. Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews, Report to BEIS, OESEA-16-76/OESEA-17-78.
  • Gregg, R., Elias, J.L., Alonso et al. (2021). Carbon storage and sequestration by habitat: a review of the evidence (second edition). Natural England Research Report NERR094.
  • Katara, I., Peden, W.J., Bannister, H. et al. 2021. Conservation hotspots for fish habitats: A case study from English and Welsh waters. Regional Studies in Marine Science, 44, p. 101745.
  • JNCC. 2021. Statistics on the extent of blue carbon habitats to support MPA decision-making in Secretary of State waters. Defra Project MB0150. Report 2/2: Results.
  • Parker, R., Benson, L., Graves, C., Kröger, S., Vieira, R. 2020. Carbon stocks and accumulation analysis for Secretary of State (SoS) region. Cefas Project Report for Defra, 42 pp.
  • Paxton, C.G.M., Scott-Hayward, L., Mackenzie, M., Rexstad, E. & L. Thomas, L. 2016. Revised Phase III Data Analysis of Joint Cetacean Protocol Data Resource JNCC Report No. 517.
  • Waggitt, J.J., Evans, P.G.H., Andrade, J., et al. 2020. Distribution Maps of Cetacean and Seabird Populations in the North-East Atlantic. Journal of Applied Ecology, 57, 253–269.

 

Knowledge gaps

If you are aware of any additional information not referred in the Relevant Documentation section listed on the main page or the annexes of the advice documents, please contact us.

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Conservation Advice

Last updated: July 2023

Updated formal conservation advice for the North East of Farnes Deep HPMA is now available. Further information on the approach used to develop this advice is available in the HPMA High-level Conservation Advice developed jointly by JNCC and Natural England.

JNCC considers that the conservation objectives for North East of Farnes Deep MPA will be furthered or least hindered if the conservation advice for the HPMA is followed as its protection supersedes the original MCZ designated in 2016. Therefore, JNCC dispenses its obligations under Section 127 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 for both North East of Farnes Deep MPA and HPMA through the delivery of its conservation advice for the HPMA.

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

  • intending to carry out any licensed activity in or near the site and need to find out how to operate within the law;
  • an authority providing advice on specific proposals; and/or
  • an authority responsible for putting management measures in place; and/or
  • preparing or providing information for an impact assessment. You can find further information on undertaking MCZ impact assessments on the Marine Management Organisation’s marine licensing webpage.

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. Should you have any queries regarding the conservation advice for this site or know of any information pertinent to the site that we should be aware of, please contact us at OffshoreMPAs@jncc.gov.uk

The following table provides an overview of the components of the conservation advice and provides hyperlinks to each of the products for this site. These elements together form JNCC’s formal conservation advice for this site and should be read in conjunction with each other. This advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by JNCC (correct as of July 2023).

Document

Overview

High-level Conservation Advice for Public Authorities on Highly Protected Marine Areas

Provides generic advice to Public Authorities on whether activities are capable of damaging or otherwise affecting the protected marine ecosystem feature of an HPMA; specifically whether they are likely to hinder the conservation objective of a Highly Protected Marine Area or may not hinder it, if undertaken at non-damaging levels.

North East of Farnes Deep HPMA Conservation Advice document

Provides ecological information about the HPMA, the conservation objective, a description of the protected marine ecosystem feature and JNCC's view of its condition and the conservation benefits of affording the HPMA appropriate protection.

North East of Farnes Deep HPMA Advice on Operations (Excel workbook)

Provides information on those human activities that are capable of impacting the protected feature of the HPMA. These activities are grouped into those which are likely to hinder the site’s conservation objective and those which may not hinder the site conservation objective if carried out at non-damaging levels.

Advice on Operations Guidance

Provides guidance explaining the contents of the Advice of Operations workbook and how they can be considered when assessing the impacts on the site from a human activity

These resources are available from JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Activities and Management

Last updated: July 2023

Management status: Progressing towards being well managed.

Progress is ongoing with the recommendation of fisheries management proposals and ongoing site condition monitoring work required in order to conclude with confidence as to the degree to which the site is moving towards or achieving its conservation objective.

A more precautionary approach to the management of activities is advised for HPMAs than is the case for existing MPAs. The government’s vision for HPMAs is that there would be no extractive, destructive or depositional activities but that other activities may occur at non-damaging levels.

North East of Farnes Deep HPMA is designated as an MCZ under the Marine and Coastal Access Act (MCAA). No activities that pose a risk of hindering the HPMA conservation objective should be permitted (MCAA Section 126 (5)-(7)).

Management measures could include the introduction of byelaws, for example to prohibit commercial and recreational fishing activity, and will be introduced following designation.

High-level and site-specific conservation advice will provide further guidance related to management of HPMA sites to meet the conservation objective. Further information can be found in the Conservation Advice section above.

Other guidance documents will also be available to support Public Authorities in their duties in relation to the management of HPMAs under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

 

Non-damaging levels of activity

Management measures for activities that are not extractive, destructive and depositional, most likely non-licensable and/or recreational, will depend on existing activity in the site and the sensitivity of the species or habitat to activities taking place in that area. Examples of non-licensable activities that may threaten biodiversity include motorised recreation and wildlife watching. Some of these activities currently occurring in the sites could be damaging to the species and habitats.

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Monitoring

Last updated: July 2023

JNCC is planning to undertake a baseline monitoring survey of the North East of Farnes Deep HPMA within a year of designation in order to establish the first point in a time series of data to determine progress of the HPMA towards achieving its conservation objective. Previously collected data from the MCZ will be used to establish data gaps and help target collection of new information to support evaluation of progress towards the objective of a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA).

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© JNCC/Cefas

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