The needles marine conservation zone (MCZ) monitoring report 2018.
This report is one of a series of Marine Protected Area (MPA) monitoring reports delivered to Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by the Marine Protected Areas Group (MPAG). The purpose of the report series is to provide the necessary information to allow Defra to fulfil its obligations in relation to MPA assessment and reporting, in relation to current policy instruments, including the Oslo- Paris (OSPAR) Convention, the Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) and Community Directives (e.g. the Habitats and Birds Directives and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive). This monitoring report is informed by data acquired during a dedicated survey carried out at The Needles Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in 2018 and will form part of the ongoing time series data and evidence for this MPA. The Needles MCZ is an inshore site that covers the stretch of the Solent adjacent to the north-west side of the Isle of Wight within the 'Eastern English Channel' Charting Progress 2 (CP2) sea area. A number of Features of Conservation Importance (FOCI), including both habitats and species, are designated for protection within The Needles MCZ. This report aims to provide characterisation of a number of broadscale habitats (BSHs) ('A3.1 High energy infralittoral rock', 'A3.2 Moderate energy infralittoral rock', 'A4.2 Moderate energy circalittoral rock', 'A5.1 Subtidal coarse sediment', 'A5.2 Subtidal sand', 'A5.3 Subtidal mud' and 'A5.4 Subtidal mixed sediments'), habitat FOCI ('Seagrass Beds', 'Sheltered Muddy Gravels' and 'Subtidal Chalk') and provides information on the presence of one species FOCI (native oyster Ostrea edulis) designated within the MCZ. The distribution of broadscale habitats recorded in 2018 was broadly similar to that recorded in 2014. For the seabed imagery data, low visibility led to poor image quality in 2018. Similarly poor visibility was also evident in the 2014 survey. It is difficult therefore to make robust comparisons of these data. A number of recommendations are made for future monitoring of The Needles MCZ.