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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA4) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). Twelve marine mammal species occur regularly in the SEA4 area: grey seal, harbour seal, hooded seal, harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Risso's dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, killer whale, minke whale, fin whale and sperm whale. A further eleven cetacean species and four pinniped species are occasional visitors. This report describes the distribution and abundance of these mammals and their ecological importance. The SEA4 area is an important area for cetaceans, but little is known about the abundance or seasonal distribution of many species. Marine mammals make use of sound for a variety of purposes: finding prey, detecting predators, communication and probably navigation. The offshore oil and gas industry generates underwater noise at every stage of the process: during exploration seismic surveys, drilling, production and decommissioning. The effects of these different sources of underwater noise on marine mammals are discussed. The use of explosives for underwater cutting and demolition during the decommissioning of platforms and installations may pose a serious threat to some marine mammals. However, current understanding of the effects of noise on marine mammals is rudimentary. The effects of pollution on seals and cetaceans are discussed, including the effects of oil spills. The diseases to which they are subject are briefly discussed, as are non-oil management issues such as fisheries bycatch.

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    As part of the UK Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) ongoing sectorial Strategic Environmental Assessment a seabed survey programme (SEA5) was undertaken between August and early October 2003 for the UKCS areas lying between Scotland and Orkney and Shetland. This report summarises the sediment trace metal data generated from the analyses of selected samples from the study areas detailed: Fair Isle; Outer Moray Firth A; Outer Moray Firth B; Smith Bank; Southern Trench.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA6) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). Seven marine mammal species are known to occur regularly in the SEA6 area. A relatively small but fairly discrete population of grey seals utilises all but the northwest Irish Sea. Harbour seals are found primarily in the far north of the area. Harbour porpoises are seen year round throughout the area and bottlenose dolphins are present year round off Wales. Minke whales, Risso's dolphins and short-beaked common dolphins are regularly seen in summer mainly in the far south. The report discusses the distribution and abundance of these mammals and their ecological importance. Marine mammals make use of sound for a variety of purposes: finding prey, detecting predators, communication and probably navigation. The offshore oil and gas industry generates underwater noise at every stage of the process: during exploration seismic surveys, drilling, production and decommissioning. The effects of these different sources of underwater noise on marine mammals are discussed. The use of explosives for underwater cutting and demolition during the decommissioning of platforms and installations may pose a serious threat to some marine mammals. The effects of pollution on seals and cetaceans are discussed, including the effects of oil spills. The prevalence of disease among the marine mammal populations is reviewed.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA3) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The report documents the known and likely occurrence of prehistoric archaeological remains across the whole floor of the North Sea including the SEA3 area, and makes suggestions on how to enhance the finding and reporting of such artefacts. Sea level change associated with the retreat of the last glaciation led to almost the whole floor of the North Sea being dry land at some time or another in the past 20,000 years. Similar exposure of the North Sea floor was also associated with earlier glacial cycles. Thus prehistoric submarine archaeological artefacts can occur over a wide area of the North Sea floor, as far north as the latitude of the Shetland Islands. While artefacts dating from the last 12,000 years are most likely, human or proto-human artefacts as old as half a million years may have survived in places. Submarine archaeological studies in the Danish Archipelago have established that coastal sites were an optimal place for prehistoric human occupation. Similar coastal sites existed over many parts of the North Sea floor in the past. The potential impact of oil and gas operations on submarine archaeological remains is discussed. Pipe entrenching is the most likely process to uncover prehistoric archaeological deposits.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA5) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). A review of the coastal distribution and abundance of swans and geese in the SEA 5 area, including migration routes, key feeding areas and roosting areas was carried out. A review of the potential impacts of offshore wind farms on swans and geese was also conducted. The study area was defined as the east coast of Scotland from the English border north to John O' Groats, including Orkney and Shetland, and the offshore waters in the SEA 5 area. The review considered nine species: mute swan, Bewick's swan, whooper swan, bean goose, pinkfooted goose, white-fronted goose, greylag goose, barnacle goose and brent goose. Offshore wind farms may impact birds directly by mortality from collisions or indirectly by displacement from migratory flyways or local flight paths. At present there are very little data on the effects of offshore wind farms on swans and geese. Of the nine species reviewed, five species, whooper swan, mute swan, pink-footed goose, greylag goose and barnacle goose occur in internationally important numbers at coastal sites in the SEA5 area. Greenland white-fronted goose occur in nationally important numbers.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA4) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The report describes the field of mud diapirs in the northern part of the SEA4 area, known as the Pilot Whale Diapirs, which were mapped during a multibeam survey carried out in 2002. A diapir is a fold or dome caused by more plastic rocks at depth, such as salt or mud, intruding overlying denser rocks, generally driven by their own buoyancy. Sometimes a diapir breaks through to the seafloor. The diapir field extends over an area some 60 km across, creating a very variable seabed terrain. The largest diapirs have produced elevations at the seafloor of more than 120m. The largest diapirs in the group are thought to have intruded to the seafloor from 500m or more beneath it. The evidence suggests that the diapirism was initiated between 5 and 1 million years ago, but it does not appear to be continuing at the present time.

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    This report presents all data relevant to the macrofaunal analysis from South Fladen Pockmark study area of the North Sea as part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment SEA2 conducted in May (Phase I) and June 2001 (Phase II). The aim of the survey was to document the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a range of offshore sandbanks and pockmarks (more than 12 km from the coast) to assess their current environmental status, variability and the relative importance of the fauna occurring within these habitats. Excel files of the data are also available.

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    Cruise report for Multibeam swath bathymetry, sidescan sonar and underwater video survey in the vicinity of Portland Bill as part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA8) . Emu Ltd was commissioned by Geotek Ltd on behalf of the DTI to perform hydrographic and ecological surveys within the vicinity of Portland Bill to further understand regional processes around a tidal headland. Survey work was required specifically to investigate the sediment processes and seabed habitats present.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA6) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The report assesses the socio-economic implications of further oil and gas licensing the SEA 6 area. The Department of Trade and Industry provided scenarios of possible exploration and development activity in the area and these scenarios were converted into optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. They were then used to produce forecasts of: oil and gas production; oil and gas reserves; expenditure; employment; and tax revenues. The implications for existing facilities in the area are discussed and the potential social impacts. An underpinning report, Economic and Social Baseline Study, is also available.

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    This report is a contribution to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA7) conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department of Energy and Climate Change). The SEA 7 area, especially the Hebrides slope and areas of the Rockall Trough has been significant in the development of deep-sea biology since the 19th century. In recent decades intensive sampling has been undertaken by researchers from UK institutions such as the Scottish Association for Marine Science (formerly the Scottish Marine Biological Association) and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. The entire SEA 7 area is contained within the biogeographic region known as the Atlantic Deep-Sea Province, with the major oceanographic variables defined by the passage of North Atlantic Deep-Water. To the south, concentrated research efforts have taken place in areas such as the southern Rockall Trough, Porcupine Seabight and Porcupine Abyssal Plain. These encompass similar hydrographic and oceanic conditions to those of the SEA 7 area and form a basis for comparison. A brief overview of the history of deep-sea research in the SEA 7 area is provided here, along with a summary of the physical environment. In this report, however, the main focus is the ecology of seafloor-dwelling organisms. The ecology of benthic communities is described with respect to large-scale trends and is discussed in the context of how anthropogenic influences may affect the benthos.