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Eastern English Channel marine habitat map being produced

News // November 10, 2006

The latest issue of the European Marine Sand and Gravel Group (EMSAGG) bulletin, provides an update on a project which aims to produce a regional scale habitat map of an extensive area of the Eastern English Channel.

This includes a smaller area where it is proposed to extract aggregate from the seabed. The map will be primarily based on new survey data and an interdisciplinary approach, integrating geological, geophysical and biological data and interpretations; existing data will also be incorporated.

The exploitation of aggregate resources within an area of the Eastern English Channel known as the 'East Channel Region' (ECR) requires an extension and enhancement of datasets collected by the aggregate industry within the ECR to place it in into the broader context of the Eastern English Channel.

The mapping and interpretation of sea bed habitats planned in this project covers a broader 7,200km2 area of the Eastern English Channel.

Initially, a review of all the relevant scientific data for the Eastern English Channel was undertaken. New surveys have been conducted using modern high-resolution geophysical systems,
including multi-beam, digital sidescan and sub-bottom profiling; over 4,500 line km has been completed.

The interpretations from these new data and existing data held by BGS and, where provided, by the aggregate industry are being ground truthed with sampling and video collected during two biological and sediment surveys.

New and existing geological, geophysical and biological data will be integrated to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the distribution of marine species and habitats within the project area.

The map output will also assist in providing additional information on the distribution of any sensitive species or habitats. Any relationships or correlations between the physical environment and associated fauna will also be investigated and assessed.

The data, interpretations and maps produced by the project will support the integrated management of sea bed resources in the area and provide a better basis for marine spatial planning, now and in the future and will also help resolve conflicts regarding seafloor use.

The products and knowledge derived from the project will be
disseminated directly to stakeholders via the web.


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