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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 class Cephalopoda comprises three major divisions, of which two: Decapoda (squids and cuttlefish) and Octopoda (octopods) are represented in the SEA 7 Area. They are highly developed, but short-lived molluscs with rapid growth rates. They are important elements in marine food webs and interact significantly with marine mammals, seabirds and commercially exploited finfish species. They also represent a promising future fishery resource in terms of market value, abundance and growth potential. At present, only an estimated 10% of exploitable stocks are utilised worldwide. There are six marketable squid species that occur in the SEA 7 Area. These belong to the long-fin (loliginid) and short-fin (Ommastrephid) squids the two most important exploited families of decpods. In the SEA 7 Area, only one species, Loligo forbesi is commercially exploited on a regular basis, although there are significant landings of other species on occasion. The closely related Loligo vulgaris sometimes appears in catches and the small Alloteuthis subulata is thought to be naturally abundant and an important food item in the marine ecosystem. There are other important species represented in the SEA 7 Area. These include cuttlefish, octopods, sepiolids and a number of deep-water species. Most of these are marketable and may be ecologically important. Large fisheries for some of these species, particularly octopods and cuttlefish operate in European waters further south, but they are not currently exploited in the SEA 7 Area.

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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 distribution and abundance of divers, grebes and seaduck in the SEA 5 area was carried out by Cork Ecology at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the production of the SEA 5 Consultation Document. 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. This review considered thirteen species: red-throated diver, black-throated diver, great northern diver, great crested grebe, red-necked grebe, slavonian grebe, scaup, eider, long-tailed duck, common scoter, velvet scoter, goldeneye and red-breasted merganser.

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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). Macrofaunal analysis was carried out on sediment samples collected in the Moray Firth between September and October 2003.

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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). Twenty-one cetacean species have been recorded in the SEA7 region. Of these, ten species are known to occur regularly: harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, Risso's dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, killer whale, sperm whale and minke whale. Five further species, though not very often recorded, and primarily associated with deep water, probably also occur regularly: striped dolphins, fin whales, northern bottlenose whales, Cuvier's beaked whale and Sowerby's beaked whale. There are occasional at-sea records of a further 6 species: Sei whale, humpback whale, blue whale, northern right whale and false killer whale. Pygmy sperm whales and at least three further species of beaked whale might also be expected in the general area on occasion. In this report, each of the more abundant species is briefly described with particular reference to its distribution and abundance in the SEA-7 area.

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    As part of Strategic Environmental Assessment SEA1, sediment samples were collected from the area designated as the White Zone at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as part of its sea-going research activities during summer 2000. The objective of the cruise was to provide a description of the current state of the seabed in the survey area, while providing baseline environmental data and identifying larger-scale environmental patterns and processes. The survey programme was conducted from Charles Darwin between July and September 2000, with samples for a number of chemical and biological analyses being collected. An Excel file containing detail of species abundance is available.

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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) and is an addendum to "SEA2 Technical report 005 - An overview of plankton ecology in the North Sea" by same authors. Eight marine mammal species occur regularly over large parts the North Sea: harbour seal, grey seal, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, killer whale and minke whale. A further 15 cetacean species and five pinniped species are reported less frequently in the region. This report describes the distribution and abundance of these mammals and their ecological importance. The harbour porpoise the most numerous marine mammal in the North Sea, with a population estimated at 268,000 in summer 1994. The northern parts of the SEA3 area are important for the three most abundant cetacean species in the North Sea: minke whale, harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin. Harbour seals occur widely in the SEA3 area. 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. Large whales can be killed by being struck by ships; increased shipping traffic in an area would increase this threat.

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    A seabird and cetacean survey was conducted onboard RV Kommandor Jack in July 2002 as part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (now Department of Energy and Climate Change) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA4) of the Faroe Shetland Channel.

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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 coastal and marine areas within the SEA 7 boundary are very extensive, longer and more varied than any other SEA area. Stretching westwards into the Atlantic Ocean, the region includes a very large area of relatively shallow continental shelf. There are also a few uninhabited islands to the west of the Outer Hebrides, including St. Kilda with its multiple conservation designations. The Outer Hebrides form one of the oldest geological provinces in Europe and is mainly based on Lewisian Gneiss. A major geological fault runs parallel to the east coast (The Minch coast), whereas the western side is normally a continuation of the continental shelf. These features are prominent in the southern islands, notably the Uists. Harris and Lewis present different topographies which include the high massif with Clisham at its centre and the low peat-covered plateaux of most of Lewis to the north. The east Minch coastline is generally steeper and falls to deeper inshore waters. It is also characterised by several transverse sea lochs which resemble similar fjords on the west mainland coast. Although the legacy of glacial processes are complex, the main effect has been to over-deepen sea lochs and inter-island straits (e.g. Sound of Harris) and deposit great masses of glacial debris, especially sands, on the shallow continental shelf to the west where, with the prevalence of strong onshore Atlantic waves and winds, vast beaches were formed in this post glacial period. Large quantities of organic sand (crushed shells) were added to this volume; as a consequence some of the larger beach and sand dune systems in Britain are found along the west coast. These extensive blown sand systems are called machairs, and provide a unique series of environmental and ecological systems with very high conservational status at European and international levels. The west coast of the Outer Hebrides contains many sites of archaeological interest and retains a distinctive cultural landscape as one of the last strongholds of a historical system of land tenure and working found nowhere else in Europe. This way of life is considered to be one of the prime reasons for the creation and maintenance of many of the significant conservational attributes of the Outer Hebrides.

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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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    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 aims of this study were: To provide an overview of individual bird species offshore distribution in SEA 7; To identify, where possible, offshore areas in SEA 7 that are important for seabirds; To assess offshore seabird vulnerability to surface pollution in SEA 7; To provide a brief outline on the potential for offshore SPAs in the offshore waters of SEA 7; To highlight major gaps in understanding and survey coverage in the offshore waters of SEA 7. Generally seabird densities were low in offshore waters. Important areas were along the shelf break, Rockall Trough and Rockall Bank. Species diversity of seabirds was low in offshore waters compared to inshore waters, although more species were recorded during the summer months. Offshore waters were defined as greater than 200 m in depth and the offshore distribution of seventeen species of seabirds were reviewed.