Morecambe Bay SAC intertidal reef surveys 2015: final report.
Background: APEM was commissioned by Natural England to conduct an intertidal survey of the intertidal reef habitats within Morecambe Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) as part of routine and long-term monitoring of this designated area. The work has been conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Marine & Coastal Studies (CMACS). The purpose of this survey was to assess selected reef features and associated attributes associated within Morecambe Bay as part of the SAC monitoring requirements. This will allow condition assessment judgements to be made on the components of the SAC. This document outlines the methodology and results of the intertidal reef surveys conducted in 2015. It highlights the notable communities encountered on site and provides a general account of anthropogenic pressures identified at the time of survey that may impact the SAC integrity. Morecambe Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is a large, very shallow, predominantly sandy bay at the confluence of four principal estuaries, the Leven, Kent, Lune and Wyre. The Duddon Estuary is within the SAC but north of the bay itself, although directly connected to it by Walney Channel. Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary are underpinned by a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): Duddon Estuary SSSI, Lune Estuary SSSI, Morecambe Bay SSSI, Roundsea Wood and Mosses SSSI, South Walney and Piel Channel Flats SSSI, and Wyre Estuary SSSI. These designations highlight the value of the Morecambe Bay SAC for the conservation of a number of protected features of recognised ecological relevance. The aim of the ecological survey work was to (1) Map the littoral intertidal reef sub-features intertidal rock, stony reef and biogenic (blue mussel bed and honeycomb worm) reef, and their associated communities (biotopes) within Morecambe Bay SAC, including Duddon, Wyre, Leven, Kent and Lune estuaries; and (2) Make an assessment of change against previously collected data sets. This will comprise an initial assessment of feature condition following the site Conservation Objectives, to enable Natural England to provide robust determination of site and feature condition using this and other data sources.