Quality status benthic habitats Dutch North Sea

Example of H1110b – photo O.G. Bos.

The Ecoauthor report on the quality status and developments of benthic habitats and MSFD-areas of the Dutch North Sea is now available. The report presents the results of the application of the Benthic Indicator Species Index (BISI) on the 2015 monitoring data (considered the T0 as various measures of the Dutch Action plan Marine Strategy were just or still had to be implemented in 2015) and compares the quality status with the recent historic developments.

Some of the most important findings are:

– A stagnation and recent decline in the benthic habitat quality of offshore areas like the Frisian Front and Central Oystergrounds after years of improvement. This might be the result of a gradual movement of (seafloor disturbing) fisheries from the coastal zone to the offshore regions as suggested by results of specific BISI analyses (focussed on specific indicator species for seafloor disturbance) and the possible first improvements as observed in coastal areas.
– The permanent large impact of amongst others nutrients and pollutants (summarized as ecological disturbance) on benthic habitat quality, especially in the coastal zone, but also extending to further offshore areas like the Doggersbank. Although ecological disturbance is the most important pressure in the area of the Doggersbank, the observed decrease in benthic quality during the last two decades seems to be the result of increasing seafloor disturbance.

The study was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) in consultation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), and executed in cooperation with Wageningen Marine Research (WMR).

The entire report can be downloaded from here (at the moment only in Dutch, but an English translation is foreseen).

Wijnhoven, S. (2018). T0 beoordeling kwaliteitstoestand NCP op basis van de Benthische Indicator Soorten Index (BISI). Toestand en ontwikkelingen van benthische habitats en KRM gebieden op de Noordzee in en voorafgaand aan 2015. Rapport Ecoauthor & Wageningen Marine Research. Ecoauthor Report Series 2018 – 01, Heinkenszand, the
Netherlands.

Annex 1 ‘KRM factsheet D6C3 Benthische habitats kwaliteit (BISI)‘ is available from here.

Benthic Indicator Species Index to evaluate quality status North Sea

To evaluate habitat quality, sea floor integrity and ecological functioning of the Dutch North Sea the Benthic Indicator Species Index (BISI) has been developed. The BISI is specifically developed to deliver to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) reporting, evaluate the effectivity of management measures and provide information for Habitat Directive-habitat evaluations. The BISI compares temporal patterns (absence/presence, or densities) of combinations of specific indicator species with predefined reference levels of these species that represent a good status. BISI can be used at different spatial scales (e.g. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Natura 2000 areas, specific ecotopes and habitats) and additionally provides evidence for possible causes and effects of observed patterns in quality status (developments).

The BISI is developed by Ecoauthor in cooperation with Wageningen Marine Research (WMR) commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs (EZ) and of Infrastructure and Environment (IenM)).

The BISI is potentially applicable in other regions than the Dutch North Sea as well. At present Ecoauthor is amongst others working on the T2015 evaluation of the Dutch North Sea on basis of BISI and the adjustment of BISI for wider application.

The indicator is presented in:

Wijnhoven, S. & Bos, O.G. (2017). Benthische Indicator Soorten Index (BISI): Ontwikkelingsproces en beschrijving van de Nationale Benthos Indicator Noordzee inclusief protocol voor toepassing. Ecoauthor Report Series 2017-02, Heinkenszand, the Netherlands (in Dutch).

or

Wijnhoven, S. & Bos, O.G. (2017). Benthic Indicator Species Index (BISI): Development process and description of the National Benthos Indicator North Sea including a protocol for application. Ecoauthor Report Series 2017-02, Heinkenszand, the Netherlands (in English).

With a protocol of application (written in English):

Wijnhoven, S. (2017a). Protocol Benthic Indicator Species Index (BISI). Annex 1 of Wijnhoven & Bos (2017).

And an assessment tool (in English):

Wijnhoven, S. (2017b) Assessment tool ‘Benthic Indicator Species Index (BISI)’ v260917. Excel-file with specification of the indicator for the areas of the Dutch EEZ to be evaluated and application for the situation in 2015 (T0). Appendix 2 of Wijnhoven & Bos (2017).