Many coastal sediments around the British Isles support communities of animals whose biology has only recently become accessible to study and whose ecological relationships are still poorly-known. Some members of these communities are rare and restricted in their distribution, while one, the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, is of considerable economic importance. There is reason to believe that some human influences on the coastal environment can adversely affect the integrity of these communities, at least on a local scale, and they are therefore worthy of investigation from a conservation-related perspective.

The objective of this report is to summarize and review the available information on the ‘Sea pens and burrowing megafauna’ biotope complex, focusing on the fundamental environmental and biological attributes of the system, its sensitivity to natural and human-induced changes, and options for monitoring such changes that are relevant to the management of candidate SACs.

General description of the biotope complex

Major constituent species

Importance of the biotope complex

Status within the biotope classification

Occurrence within candidate SACs

Distribution outside the British Isles