Monitoring and Surveillance Options

Two aspects of monitoring are not considered in detail here as they are general to the management of the SAC as a whole, and are not specific to the CFT component. However, they are both essential to formulating an effective monitoring strategy for CFTs in the first instance, and for interpreting the subsequent outcome of these monitoring programmes.

  • There is an obvious need for detailed initial surveys of the SAC to determine the range and distribution of CFT biotopes present - presumably on the lines of the MNCR ‘Seasearch’ surveys, though with a more rigorous protocol.
  • There is an ongoing requirement to monitor water quality both within the SAC, and in the surrounding areas. Basic hydrographic variables such as temperature, salinity, transparency, suspended solids, dissolved oxygen and nutrients should be examined as a matter of course. Other factors should be included where they are perceived as a potential threat.

The purpose of monitoring is to ensure that the SAC retains those qualities which were responsible for its initial selection. There is a requirement that European Marine Sites should be managed in order to contribute to the maintenance or restoration of favourable conservation status of their natural habitats and species. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to clearly define the aims of the monitoring exercise, and then to establish a monitoring programme which will achieve those aims whilst being practicable and affordable. For conservation purposes monitoring is often divided into two components.

Surveillance monitoring - an attempt to detect unanticipated impacts, particularly ones that may be wide ranging, subtle or that only slowly become large and obvious. This is essentially an information gathering exercise.

Condition (or compliance) monitoring - survey undertaken to detect departures from agreed or predicted amounts of disturbance. The aim here is to provide a feedback to management, so that agreed management strategies can be triggered, or new strategies developed.

In both surveillance and condition modes an understanding of the range of ‘natural’ variation in the biotopes and species under study is implicit. The null hypothesis is that "change will stay within that normal in an environment affected only by natural events" (Hiscock, 1998). For surveillance monitoring ‘impacts’ can only be discriminated when the background variation is understood, and for condition monitoring the range of natural variation must be known in order to set agreed limits of disturbance. Although surveillance and condition monitoring have discrete aims, the information required in each case is substantially the same (changes in species presence or abundance, or in community parameters) and would normally be obtained from the same monitoring programmes.

There are two major problems in relation to the monitoring of CFT biotopes. Firstly there is limited information on the natural variation in both CFT species and CFT biotopes (see section III.C.1). This will mean that the monitoring of CFTs must in some cases initially serve to provide the information needed to define agreed limits of disturbance, and only later serve in a condition mode. Secondly the logistics of available methods impose severe constraints on the type and scale of monitoring programmes which can be accomplished, so that the aims must be very specific.


Monitoring format

Suggested monitoring strategies

Monitoring Interpretation