The targets covering the condition of intertidal seagrass communities have been achieved in the Celtic Seas and Greater North Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions, but there is low confidence in the assessment results.

Background

UK target on intertidal seagrass quality

This indicator is used to assess progress against the Water Framework Directive ecological status boundaries and areas of unacceptable impact, which are components of the Marne Strategy Framework Directive  sediment habitats targets, set in the UK Marine Strategy Part One (HM Government, 2012).

Key pressures and impacts

The seagrass tool is designed to detect the impact due to general physical disturbance including hydromorphological change (those that alter a water body’s physical structure and flow characteristics), excess deposition and habitat loss arising from activities such as navigation and flood protection, and to a lesser extent increased nutrient concentrations (eutrophication).

The UK Water Framework Directive risk assessments identify those pressures that are likely to cause a failure for a Water Framework Directive water body to meet its environmental objectives.

Measures taken to address the impacts

Measures to protect benthic habitats are set out in the UK Marine Strategy Part Three (HM Government, 2015). These include those related to the Habitats Directive (European Commission, 1992), Water Framework Directive (European Commission, 2000), Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (European Commission, 1991a), Nitrates Directive (European Commission, 1991b), OSPAR Convention, Marine Spatial Planning, land management schemes, catchment sensitive farming, and European Marine Site management schemes.

Monitoring, assessment and regional co-operation

Areas that have been assessed

Progress against the UK target was assessed for the Celtic Seas and the Greater North Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions and their constituent UK Regional Seas set out in Charting Progress 2 (UKMMAS, 2010).

Monitoring and assessment methods

Routine monitoring of intertidal seagrass is undertaken using methods developed under the Water Framework Directive. The intertidal seagrass tool is an index based on the average of three criteria: seagrass bed extent loss, annual/five-yearly average shoot density loss, and species loss as a proportion of a historical reference. These measurements are combined to derive an Ecological Quality Ratio.

Assessment thresholds

The indicator quality threshold is defined as the boundary for Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Status (Ecological Quality Ratio ≥0.60) or Good Ecological Potential (for Heavily Modified Water Bodies). For Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region and UK Regional Sea assessments, the overall indicator target is met where the assessed surface area meeting the quality threshold meets the quantity threshold of 95%.

Regional co-operation

The indicator has not been used for the OSPAR intermediate Assessments (OSPAR Commission, 2017) but may be used for future regional analysis. The boundary of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Status has been set through Intercalibration with other Member States of the North East Atlantic Geographical Intercalibration Group.

Assessment method

Further details on the Water Framework Directive intertidal seagrass tool assessment method are available at the Water Framework Directive WFD UK Technical Advisory Group website.

Baseline setting

The approach to setting reference conditions as defined for the Water Framework Directive seagrass tool is compliant with the approaches to setting baselines for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive as outlined by the OSPAR Intersessional Correspondence Group on Coordinated Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring (OSPAR Commission, 2012) as:

  1. a state in which the anthropogenic influences on species and habitats are considered to be negligible
  2. a state in the past, based on a time-series dataset for a specific species or habitat, selecting the period in the dataset which is considered to reflect least impacted conditions.

Quality target

The target of Good Ecological Status or Good Ecological Potential (where mitigation measures against the modification features are considered sufficient for Heavily Modified Water Bodies) as defined for the Water Framework Directive (European Commission, 2000), is being applied as the indicator quality threshold for the first round of Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments. The quantity target is met where ≥95% of the surface area of the assessed intertidal seagrass communities within a UK Regional Sea meets the quality threshold. Saltmarsh beds are priority habitats within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, so this target conforms to those relating to quantity at an acceptable condition recommended by the UK Technical Advisory Group (WFD-UKTAG, 2007) for High Ecological Status and the Habitats Directive (European Commission, 1992) target for Favourable Condition.

This may be reviewed and revised in future assessment cycles.

Aggregation approach

The approach to aggregating the Water Framework Directive water body classifications to UK Regional Sea assessments is as follows:

  • Seagrass Water Framework Directive classification results for coastal water bodies from the 2015 River Basin Management Plans were collated at the survey level from the UK Water Framework Directive monitoring authorities. The percentage cover of assessed seagrass beds at each Water Framework Directive ecological status class were calculated within each UK Regional Sea.
  • Seagrass beds categorised as ‘Bad’, ‘Poor’ or ‘Moderate’ ecological status under the Water Framework Directive were categorised as being below the indicator quality target, with those at ‘Good’ or ‘High’ ecological status categorised as being above the indicator quality target.
  • The final UK Regional Sea assessment is calculated using the total percentage of saltmarsh extent within all classified water bodies which meets the indicator quality target. The overall indicator target is achieved when the extent of classified saltmarsh meeting the quality target is 95% of all classified intertidal seagrass beds within a UK Regional Sea.

Confidence assessment

The approach to determining confidence in the UK Regional Sea assessments is based on the extent to which the indicator and associated assessments fulfil certain criteria which impact the extent to which the assessment represents the available habitat relevant to the indicator and the extent to which the indicator can identify the overall effect of the relevant pressures along with  the confidence in the assessment result being above/below the indicator target. Details of the criteria are provided in Table 1. The overall confidence assessment is based on the lowest extent to which the criteria are fulfilled (one-out-all-out).

Table 1. Confidence assessment criteria for the UK Regional Sea Water Framework Directive intertidal seagrass indicator assessments.

UK Regional Sea confidence assessment criteria

Low

Medium

High

Spatial coverage of classification data

 

This criterion indicates the extent to which Water Framework Directive water bodies within a UK Regional Sea are classified by the indicator. A high proportion of water bodies classified within a UK Regional Sea corresponds to high confidence in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment.

<33.3% of Water Framework Directive water bodies assessed

33.3% - 66.6% of water bodies assessed

>66.6% of water bodies assessed

Spatial coverage of pressures

 

This criterion provides a measure of the extent to which the classified Water Framework Directive water bodies correspond to the presence of relevant pressures (as determined through the Water Framework Directive risk assessments), indicating the potential of the Water Framework Directive classifications to detect the associated impacts of such pressures. High coverage of the areas exposed to pressure (those considered 'At Risk' of failing to achieve Good Ecological Status under Water Framework Directive) by the Water Framework Directive water body classifications corresponds to high confidence within the UK Regional Sea scale Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment.

<33.3% of At Risk/Probably at Risk water bodies assessed

33.3% - 66.6% of At Risk/Probably at Risk water bodies assessed

>66.6% of At Risk/Probably at Risk water bodies assessed

Indicator level agreement (Cohen's Kappa) between assessment results and pressure from Risk Assessments

 

Cohen’s Kappa agreement indicates of the extent to which the indicator Water Framework Directive classifications correspond to the risk assessments at the water body level. Agreement between water bodies categorised as ‘At Risk’/ ‘Probably at Risk’ and those at Good Ecological Status is calculated using all water body data. High confidence in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments corresponds to high agreement between the indicator classifications and risk assessment results. Low correspondence may be indicative of either low sensitivity of the indicator to the pressure or indicative of a low correspondence between the risk assessment results and the true extent of the pressure (further investigation recommended).

<0.333

0.333 - 0.666

>0.666

Variability of assessment results

 

This criterion is a measure of the variability of the different Water Framework Directive water body classifications within a UK Regional Sea scale Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment. Low variability in the Water Framework Directive classifications corresponds with high confidence in the assessment.

<66.6% of assessment units (seagrass bed extent) within same Water Framework Directive status

66.6% - 83.3% of assessment unit (seagrass bed extent) at same status

>83.3% of assessment units (seagrass bed extent) at same status

Proximity of assessment to target

 

This criterion is a measure of the extent of the difference between the observed measure of the quantity indicator and the quantity indicator target. Large differences between the observed quantity indicator value and the quantity indicator target corresponds to high confidence in the UK Regional Sea scale Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment.

Priority habitats: assessment within 1.66% of target

Priority habitats: assessment within 1.66% - 3.33% of target

Priority habitats: assessment >3.33% of target

Deviations by Monitoring Authorities

All UK monitoring authorities applied the methods for assessment as described within the UK Technical Advisory Group method statement.

Results

Findings from the 2012 UK Initial Assessment

This indicator was not considered as part of the 2012 Initial Assessment.

Latest findings

Status assessment

Assessments are based on aggregated water body classifications derived for the 2015 UK River Basin Management Plans. The results of the aggregated intertidal seagrass indicator assessment for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions and UK Regional Seas are presented in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. Proportion of total assessed seagrass bed extent achieving less than the indicator quality threshold for each UK Regional Sea. *Water Framework Directive assessments rolled forward using pre-2009 classification data.

Figure 2. UK Regional Seas with corresponding assessment results showing locations of coastal water bodies used for Water Framework Directive intertidal seagrass classifications with corresponding ecological status.

The overall target has been met for both Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions and all constituent UK Regional Seas, with the quality threshold having been met for the majority of the contributing water bodies. This indicates that the activities which might cause impact to intertidal seagrass communities may be operating at a level which are not causing a deleterious effect. Four UK Regional Seas have not been assessed due to either an absence of intertidal habitat which is required by the indicator or an absence of existing Water Framework Directive classification data. The natural conditions required for seagrass beds to exist limits their occurrence in coastal water bodies.

The confidence for Water Framework Directive intertidal seagrass indicator assessments has been categorised as low for all assessments, primarily due to low spatial coverage of the Water Framework Directive assessment results, and low coverage of water bodies categorised as being ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ from diffuse source pollution and morphological alteration pressures from the Water Framework Directive risk assessments. Agreement between intertidal seagrass assessment results and risk assessment results is low, potentially indicating either a low correlation between the indicator to morphological alteration/diffuse source pollution pressures (either due to variability in the indicator or the criteria used for the risk assessments) or a discrepancy between the threshold required to trigger a water body being categorised as ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ and the indicator quality target threshold.

Trend assessment

Unknown: The aggregated Water Framework Directive results were not considered as part of the 2012 Initial Assessment.

The results may inform data collection and research requirements to improve confidence and accuracy of future assessments.

 

Further information

The assessment is based on aggregated results from the UK Water Framework Directive classifications for the period 2009 to 2015. The method is based on the intertidal seagrass assemblages and considered responsive to hydromorphological and nutrient enrichment pressures from inshore activities.

The UK Water Framework Directive risk assessments identified 24% (95 of the 396 assessed) of coastal water bodies are ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to meet their environmental objectives as a result of pressures categorised as morphological alterations and diffuse source pollution (including nutrient enrichment) pressures.

The indicator determines the impact to the ecological quality of seagrass communities of intertidal habitats by combining measures of seagrass bed extent loss, annual/five-yearly average shoot density loss, and species loss as a proportion of a historical reference. The average of the three metrics are combined within an Ecological Quality Ratio. Metrics are calculated at the Water Framework Directive water body level using data collected within a 6-year period. The water body assessments indicate the extent to which the entire intertidal seagrass community deviates from reference conditions and relates this to the boundary between Moderate and Good Ecological Status to identify whether the water body has achieved the target of Good Ecological Status. The quantity target is met where ≥95% (priority habitat threshold) of the assessed surface area meets the quality target of Good or High Ecological Status or Good Ecological Potential.

Detailed assessment results for each Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region are presented for each of their component UK regional sea. The sub-regions comprise of the regional seas as follows:

Greater North Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region

  1. Northern North Sea
  2. Southern North Sea
  3. Eastern English Channel

Celtic Seas Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region

  1. Western Channel and Celtic Seas
  2. Irish Sea
  3. Minches and Western Scotland
  4. Scottish Continental Shelf
  5. Atlantic North-West Approaches, Rockall Trough, and Faeroe/Shetland Channel
  6. Shared Waters between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Northern North Sea

The overall risk of the Northern North Sea failing to meet the target for seagrass can be considered as low. The Water Framework Directive assessment within the Northern North Sea indicates that seagrass communities are above the indicator quality target, being at Water Framework Directive High Ecological Status (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Outline of the Northern North Sea Regional Sea inshore indicating intertidal seagrass Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment result and location and ecological status of the corresponding Water Framework Directive water bodies.

The corresponding risk assessment categorises the water body used for the assessment as ‘Not at Risk’ or ‘Probably Not at Risk’ of failing as a result of morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Table 3). However, the Regional Sea intersects with a total of 71 water bodies, whereby a further nine water bodies exist within the Northern North Sea. These are considered 'At Risk' from morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures and have not been assessed with the seagrass indicator.

When considering indicator quality targets for Heavily Modified Water Bodies (Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential), none of the water bodies assessed as below the indicator quality target are categorised as Heavily Modified Water Bodies, so meeting a target of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential is not considered.

The overall confidence in the Northern North Sea Regional Sea seagrass assessment is categorised as low. This is based on the low spatial coverage of the assessment data (one out of 71 water bodies) and the low correspondence between the seagrass indicator and morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Kappa agreement of 0.04).

Table 3. Summary of Water Framework Directive water body pressure information and seagrass index classification results for the Northern North Sea Regional Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments.

Water body

Monitoring Agency

Heavily Modified Water Body

Diffuse Source Pollution pressure

Morphological alteration pressures

Seagrass Current Extent (Ha)

Water body Ecological Quality Ratio

Water Framework Directive status

Holy Island & Budle Bay*

Environment Agency

No

At Risk/Probably at Risk

Not at Risk/Probably Not at Risk

666.2

0.97

High

Eastern English Channel

The overall risk of the Eastern English Channel failing to meet the target for seagrass can be considered as low. The Water Framework Directive assessment within the Eastern English Channel indicates that seagrass communities are above the indicator quality target, being at Water Framework Directive High Ecological Status (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Outline of the Eastern English Channel Regional Sea inshore indicating intertidal seagrass Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment results and location and ecological status of the corresponding Water Framework Directive water bodies.

The corresponding risk assessment categorises the water body used for the assessment (Table 4) as ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to achieve the indicator quality target as a result of morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures. A further 15 out of 18 water bodies within the Eastern English Channel being categorized as ‘At Risk’ from morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures which have not been assessed with the seagrass indicator.

When considering indicator quality targets for Heavily Modified Water Bodies (Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential), none of the water bodies assessed as below the indicator quality target are categorised as Heavily Modified Water Bodies, so meeting a target of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential is not considered.

The overall confidence in the Eastern English Channel Regional Sea seagrass assessment is categorised as low. This is based on the low spatial coverage of the assessment data (one out of 18 water) and the low correspondence between the seagrass indicator and morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Kappa agreement of 0.04).

Table 4. Summary of Water Framework Directive water body pressure information and seagrass index classification results for the Eastern English Channel Regional Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments

Water body

Monitoring Agency

Heavily Modified Water Body

Diffuse Source Pollution pressure

Morphological alteration pressures

Seagrass Current Extent (Ha)

Water body Ecological Quality Ratio

Water Framework Directive status

Solent

Environment Agency

Yes

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

61.4

0.86

High

Western Channel and Celtic Seas

The overall risk of the Western Channel and Celtic Seas Regional Sea failing to meet the target for seagrass can be considered as low. Both Water Framework Directive assessments indicate that seagrass communities are above the indicator quality target, being at Water Framework Directive Good or High Ecological Status (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Outline of the Western Channel and Celtic Seas Regional Sea inshore indicating intertidal seagrass Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment result and location and ecological status of the corresponding Water Framework Directive water bodies.

The corresponding risk assessments for the water bodies categorises one of the water bodies as being ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to achieve the indicator quality target as a result of morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures, with the remaining other water body being ‘Not at Risk’ or ‘’Probably Not at Risk’ of failing. The Regional Sea intersects with a total of 28 water bodies, whereby a further 16 water bodies exist within the Western Channel and Celtic Seas. These are considered ‘At Risk’ from morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures and have not been assessed with the seagrass indicator.

When considering indicator quality targets for Heavily Modified Water Bodies (Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential), none of the water bodies assessed as below the indicator quality target are categorised as Heavily Modified Water Bodies, so meeting a target of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential is not considered.

The overall confidence in the Western Channel and Celtic Seas seagrass assessment is categorised as low. This is based on the low spatial coverage of the assessment data (2 out of 28 water bodies) and the low correspondence between the seagrass indicator and morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Kappa agreement of 0.04).

Table 5. Summary of Water Framework Directive water body pressure information and seagrass index classification results for the Western Channel and Celtic Seas Regional Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments

Water body

Monitoring Agency

Heavily Modified Water Body

Diffuse Source Pollution pressure

Morphological alteration pressures

Seagrass Current Extent (Ha)

Water body Ecological Quality Ratio

Water Framework Directive status

Burry Inlet Outer

Natural Resources Wales

No

Not at Risk/Probably Not at Risk

Not at Risk/Probably Not at Risk

1.6

0.78

Good

Milford Haven Outer

Natural Resources Wales

No

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

39.9

0.85

High

Irish Sea

The overall risk of the Irish Sea failing to meet the target for seagrass can be considered as low. In terms of spatial coverage, the majority of Water Framework Directive assessments within the Irish Sea indicate that seagrass communities are above the indicator quality target, being predominantly at Water Framework Directive High Ecological Status, with a low percentage of the remaining seagrass being at Water Framework Directive Moderate Ecological Status (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Outline of the Irish Sea Regional Sea inshore indicating intertidal seagrass Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment result and location and ecological status of the corresponding Water Framework Directive water bodies.

The corresponding risk assessments for the water bodies categorise both as ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to achieve the indicator quality target as a result of morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Table 6). The Regional Sea intersects with a total of 68 water bodies, whereby a further 26 water bodies exist within the Irish Sea. These are considered ‘At Risk’ from morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures and have not been assessed with the seagrass indicator.

When considering indicator quality targets for Heavily Modified Water Bodies (Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential), none of the water bodies assessed as below the indicator quality target are categorised as Heavily Modified Water Bodies, so meeting a target of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential is not considered.

The overall confidence in the Irish Sea Regional Sea seagrass assessment is categorised as low. This is based on the low spatial coverage of the assessment data (2 out of 68 water bodies), the low correspondence between the seagrass indicator and morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Kappa agreement of 0.04) and the high variability in Water Framework Directive water body status within the Irish Sea Regional Sea.

Table 6. Summary of Water Framework Directive water body pressure information and seagrass index classification results for the Irish Sea Regional Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments

Water body

Monitoring Agency

Heavily Modified Water Body

Diffuse Source Pollution pressure

Morphological alteration pressures

Seagrass Current Extent (Ha)

Water body Ecological Quality Ratio

Water Framework Directive status

Dundrum Bay Inner

Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs

No

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

4.3

0.59

Moderate

Strangford Lough North

Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs

No

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

874.0

0.94

High

Shared waters between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

The overall risk of the Shared waters between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland failing to meet the target for seagrass can be considered as low. Both Water Framework Directive assessments within the Shared waters between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland indicate that seagrass communities are above the indicator quality target, with both being at Water Framework Directive High Ecological Status (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Outline of the shared waters between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland inshore indicating intertidal seagrass Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessment result and location and ecological status of the corresponding Water Framework Directive water bodies.

The corresponding risk assessments categorises both water bodies as being as ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to achieve the indicator quality target as a result of morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures. The Regional Sea intersects with a total of 3 water bodies, with the remaining water body within the Shared waters between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland being considered ‘At Risk’ from morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures which have not been assessed with the seagrass indicator.

When considering indicator quality targets for Heavily Modified Water Bodies (Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential), none of the water bodies assessed as below the indicator quality target are categorised as Heavily Modified Water Bodies, so meeting a target of Water Framework Directive Good Ecological Potential is not considered.

The overall confidence in the Shared waters between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Regional Sea seagrass assessment is categorised as low. This is based on the low spatial coverage of the assessment data (2 out of 3 water bodies), the low correspondence between the seagrass indicator and morphological alterations and/or diffuse source pollution pressures (Kappa agreement of 0.04).

Table 7. Summary of Water Framework Directive water body pressure information and seagrass index classification results for the Shared waters between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Regional Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive assessments

Water body

Monitoring Agency

Heavily Modified Water Body

Diffuse Source Pollution pressure

Morphological alteration pressures

Seagrass Current Extent (Ha)

Water body Ecological Quality Ratio

Water Framework Directive status

Carlingford Lough

Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs

No

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

6.8

0.97

High

Lough Foyle

Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs

-

At Risk/Probably at Risk

At Risk/Probably at Risk

180.0

0.81

High

 

 

Conclusions

The targets for intertidal seagrass communities have been met for both the Celtic Seas and the Greater North Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions, although confidence in the assessment is low.

The pressures which impact the seagrass communities operate over small spatial scales with their effect being relatively localised. Assessment of the indicator at the UK Regional Sea scale may, therefore, be considered of greater relevance. In all Regional Seas, almost all area of seagrass communities assessed met the quality threshold. The Irish Sea has the lowest extent of intertidal seagrass meeting the quality target, although the total remains markedly above the indicator quantity threshold. There is, therefore, a likelihood that intertidal seagrass communities are not being impacted by hydromorphological or nutrient pressures at a level as to reduce the environmental status within all assessed Regional Sea inshore waters.

As the seagrass assessments are based on intertidal communities, conclusions drawn relating to the effects of pressures should be limited to inshore pressures only. The results cannot provide directional trends in quality due to the low frequency of the data (subsequent assessments are required for this).

Knowledge gaps

The knowledge gaps accompanying the assessments include the following:

  • Assessments represent a small proportion of the overall UK coastline with Water Framework Directive classifications provided for 8 out of 475 coastal water bodies.
  • Water Framework Directive seagrass classifications were not undertaken for Scotland during the period 2009 to 2015.
  • Comprehensive Available Intertidal Habitat data for seagrass is not yet available. This will be made available for the next assessment cycle.
  • Water Framework Directive monitoring and assessment methods for sub-tidal seagrass communities are proposed for development in 2017.
  • Subtidal taxa observed at extreme low water are occasionally included, potentially elevating species richness.
  • The assessments do not include non-Water Framework Directive classification data and exclude additional relevant data such as seagrass condition assessments and monitoring for Marine Protected Areas undertaken by the UK Conservation Agencies.
  • Broader spatial coverage of assessments to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the level to which hydromorphological or nutrient enrichment pressures may be impacting UK seagrass communities.
References

HM Government (2012) ‘Marine Strategy Part One: UK Initial Assessment and Good Environmental Status’ (viewed on 5 July 2018)

HM Government (2015) ‘Marine Strategy Part Three: UK Programme of Measures’ December 2015 (viewed on 5 July 2018)

European Commission (1991a) 'Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment' Official Journal of the European Union L 135, 30.5.1991, pages 40–52 (viewed on 8 October 2018)

European Commission (1991b) 'Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources' Official Journal of the European Union L 375, 31.12.1991, pages 1–8 (viewed on 8 October 2018)

European Council (1992) ‘Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora’ Official Journal of the European Union L 206, 22.7.1992, pages 7-50 (viewed 1 October 2018)

European Commission (2000) ‘Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy’ Official Journal of the European Union L 327, 22.12.2000, pages 1–73 (viewed on 8 October 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2012) ‘Meeting of the Intersessional Correspondence Group on Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring: ICG COMBAM(3)’ 5-6 December 2012, Brussels. Chaired by Narberhaus I and Zweifel UL (viewed on 15 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2017) ‘Intermediate Assessment 2017’ (viewed on 21 September 2018)

UKMMAS (2010) 'Charting Progress 2: An assessment of the state of the UK seas' Published by Defra on behalf of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy community (viewed on 15 January 2019)

WFD-UKTAG (Water Framework Directive UK Technical Advisory Group) (2007) ‘UK Environmental Standards and Conditions (Phase 2)’ Final: SR1-2007, March 2008 (viewed on 15 January 2019)

Acknowledgements

Assessment metadata
Assessment TypeUK Marine Strategy Framework Directive Indicator Assessment
 

D1 - Biological Diversity

D6 – Seafloor Integrity

 

Condition of intertidal seagrass communities in coastal waters determined using Water Framework Directive methods.

 

In addition to links provided in ‘References’ section above:

European Commission (2008) ‘Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)’ Official Journal of the European Union L 164, 25.6.2008, pages 19-40 (viewed on 16 November 2018)

Point of contact emailmarinestrategy@defra.gov.uk
Metadata dateFriday, June 1, 2018
TitleCondition of intertidal seagrass communities in coastal waters determined using Water Framework Directive methods.
Resource abstract

Marine Strategy Framework Directive Regional Seas were assessed using aggregated Water Framework Directive classification results for the intertidal seagrass indicator as undertaken for the Cycle 2 River Basin Management Plans for England and Wales.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive environmental objective targets were set according to WFD quality targets and UK Technical Advisory Group spatial criteria and favourable condition assessment thresholds.

The targets covering the condition of intertidal seagrass communities have been achieved in the Celtic Sea and Greater North Sea Marine Strategy Framework Directive Sub-Regions.

Linkage

In addition to references provided in above:

HM Government (2015) ‘The Water Framework Directive (Standards and Classification) Directions (England and Wales) 2015’ (viewed on 13 January 2019)

HM Government (2015) ‘The Water Framework Directive (Classification, Priority Substances and Shellfish Waters) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015’ (viewed on 13 January 2019)

Scottish Government (2014) ‘The Scotland River Basin District (Standards) Directions 2014’ (viewed on 13 January 2019)

WFD-UKTAG (Water Framework Directive UK Technical Advisory Group) (2014) ‘UKTAG Transitional and Coastal Water Assessment Method, Angiosperm: Intertidal Seagrass Tool’ April 2014, ISBN: 978-1-906934-36-1 (viewed on 13 January 2019)

Foden J, Brazier P, Best M, Scanlan C, Wells E (2010) ‘Water Framework Directive Development of Classification Tools for Ecological Assessment: Intertidal Seagrass (Marine Angiosperms)’ Research and Development Report (viewed on 13 January 2019)

Water Framework Directive Cycle 2 River Basin Management Plans:

Conditions applying to access and use

© Crown copyright, licenced under the Open Government Licence (OGL).

Assessment Lineage

Background:

This indicator is used to assess progress against the Water Framework Directive ecological status boundaries and areas of unacceptable impact, which are components of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive sediment habitats targets, set in the UK Marine Strategy Part One.

Sources of data:

Assessments use data from WFD monitoring used within the Cycle 2 River Basin Management Plans for England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Data processing:

The saltmarsh index calculated for the Cycle 2 RBMPs used for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive UK assessment can be calculated using the Seagrass Assessment Incorporating Likelihood of Risk (SAILOR) Microsoft Excel workbook (available for download from UKTAG).

The approach to aggregating the WFD water body classifications to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Sub-Regions and UK Charting Progress 2 (CP2) Regional Seas is as follows:

  • Seagrass WFD classification results for coastal waterbodies from the Cycle 2 River Basin Management Plan (RBMPs) were collated at the survey level from the UK WFD monitoring authorities. The percentage cover of assessed seagrass beds at each WFD ecological status class were calculated within each CP2 Regional Sea.
  • Seagrass beds categorised as ‘Bad’, ‘Poor’ or ‘Moderate’ ecological status under WFD were categorised as being below the indicator quality target, with those at ‘Good’ or ‘High’ ecological status categorised as being above the indicator quality target.

The final CP2 Regional Sea assessment is calculated using the total percentage of saltmarsh extent within all classified water bodies which meets the indicator quality target. The overall indicator target is achieved when the extent of classified saltmarsh meeting the quality target is 95% of all classified intertidal seagrass beds within a CP2 Regional Sea.

Indicator assessment results
Dataset metadata

https://www.dassh.ac.uk/doitool/data/1663

Links to datasets identifiers

Please, see below

Dataset DOI

https://doi.org/10.17031/1663

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI) – a persistent identifier to provide a link to a dataset (or other resource) on digital networks. Please note that persistent identifiers can be created/minted, even if a dataset is not directly available online.

Indicator assessment metadata – data and information about the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of an indicator assessment.

MEDIN discovery metadata - a list of standardized information that accompanies a marine dataset and allows other people to find out what the dataset contains, where it was collected and how they can get hold of it.

Recommended reference for this indicator assessment

Phillips, G.1, McGruer, K.1, Crook, D.2, Doria, L.3, Herbon, C.3, Khan, J.4, Mackie, T.5, Singleton, G.3 & Young, C.5 2018. Condition of intertidal seagrass communities in coastal waters determined using Water Framework Directive methods. UK Marine Online Assessment Tool, available at: https://moat.cefas.co.uk/biodiversity-food-webs-and-marine-protected-areas/benthic-habitats/intertidal-seagrass/

1Environment Agency

2Natural Resources Wales

3Joint Nature Conservation Committee

4Scottish Environment Protection Agency

5Department of Environment, Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland