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marine environment

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Feature Activity Sensitivity Tool (FEAST)

The development of FEAST has concentrated on the proposed protected features of possible Nature Conservation MPAs (pMPAs).

The information in FEAST has been used as a starting point to develop the Management Options Papers for each pMPA, but sensitivity assessments have not been completed for all the proposed protected features.

Large-scale MPA search features

For some of the large-scale features (e.g. continental slope, seamounts) JNCC and SNH consider these unlikely to be significantly impacted by human activity. However, where large-scale features support other habitats and species (e.g. seamount communities on the seamounts large-scale feature) these assessments should be referred to.

For fronts, some finer-scale examples of the shelf deeps, and the shelf banks and mounds features further discussions are on-going. Please refer to Management Options Papers for pMPAs including these features for guidance.

In some cases, the proposed protected large-scale features of a pMPA also represent proposed geodiversity protected features. In such instances, please refer to the sensitivity assessments for the geodiversity features within FEAST.

Additional representative features

To ensure the MPA network represents Scotland’s seas more generally, a number of representative features have been included as proposed protected features of the pMPAs. These are not currently included within FEAST.

For the sedimentary habitats included as proposed protected features in a number of territorial waters pMPAs, existing assessments for sedimentary habitats have been used at a proxy to develop the Management Options Paper. Further analysis will determine whether additional assessments for sediment habitats are required. Where they are undertaken the results will be added to FEAST in early 2014, along with an assessment for serpulid aggregations.

No assessment will be undertaken for white cluster anemone as it has similar sensitivities to northern sea fan and sponge communities. No assessment for historic herring spawning grounds will take place as the seabed habitats representing their spawning substrate (e.g. maerl beds and related coarse substrates with burrowing sea cucumbers) have already been assessed.

Mobile MPA search features

Assessments for Risso’s dolphin, minke whale, white-sided dolphin and basking shark are ongoing.  They will be completed and added to FEAST before any MPA proposals are brought forward for consideration by Scottish Ministers.


Offshore subtidal sands and gravels and offshore deep sea muds – FEAST translation table

For the habitat types included in the pMPAs that include offshore subtidal sands and gravels and offshore deep-sea muds as proposed protected features, JNCC have produced a correlation table that indicates which FEAST assessments should be referred to.

FEAST utilises the work undertaken through Defra contract MB0102 to develop a sensitivity matrix of marine habitats and species to pressures taking place in the marine environment (see Tillin et al., 2010). This work has subsequently been adapted to reflect additional evidence available for Scotland’s seas. Much of the evidence presented within FeAST has been derived from sensitivity assessments originally undertaken by MarLIN (  Assessments have been adapted or altered where necessary to reflect our current understanding, new information and differences in some of the pressure definitions/benchmarks.