Annex IV protected areas: water dependent habitats and species and high status sites




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3.2. Water dependency in the SAC network.

Of the 423 SAC and cSAC sites currently listed in Ireland, 367 have at least one water dependent Annex 1 listed habitat or Annex 2 listed species listed as a Qualifying Interest. Four of these sites are listed for cold water coral reefs and are located far offshore, outside the RBD areas, 363 are located onshore and around the Irish coast, and are shown in Figure 1 below.





Figure 1. Register of Protected Areas: SACs. Coastal and onshore SACs listed for water dependent habitats and species as a Qualifying Interest (in blue). RBD boundaries are shown. SACs which do not have water dependent habitats and species as a Qualifying Interest are also shown (in mauve)
The attached database SAC_Water_Dependency includes all 419 coastal and onshore SACs (the four cold water coral reef SACs fall far offshore and thus outside the RBD areas). The Register of Protected Areas includes 363 SACs, i.e. the SACs in which at least one water dependent Annex 1 listed habitat or Annex 2 listed species is listed as a Qualifying Interest.
SACs not currently on the Register of Protected Areas are included in the database, because many of them do have Habitats Directive Annex listed as occurring within them (as non-qualifying interests; listed as P in the database), or include Heritage Council (Fossitt, 2000) water dependent habitats within their boundaries, (see Appendix 1).
Habitats Directive listed water dependent habitats and species are described briefly below, and the pressures impacting upon them are elucidated. The information included is drawn from the backing documentation of the Article 17 conservation status reporting, and focuses on identified pressures (current) and threats (future) to habitats and species that are required to be addressed through water quality and quantity management measures under the Water Framework Directive. The conservation status of each water dependent habitat, and of the associated water dependent species as assessed under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive (for the period 2000 to 2006) is also given in the tables below. The sensitivities of Annex 1 listed habitats and Annex 2 listed species to hydrological and water quality pressures are considered further on Section 5 of this report. The four cold water coral reef SACs are not considered as they fall outside the RBD areas.


3.3. Coastal marine habitats.





Habitat Code

Habitat Name (#)


Structure and functions (Condition)

Overall Conservation Status

1110

Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time (3)

Favourable

Inadequate

1160

Large shallow inlets and bays (35)

Unknown

Inadequate

1170

Reefs (52)

Inadequate

Inadequate

8330

Submerged or partially submerged sea caves (15)

Favourable

Favourable

# Note: The number of SACs in which each habitat occurs as either a Qualifying Interest, or is present, is given in brackets
Coastal marine habitats occur as a Qualifying Interest in 41 SAC sites nationally. Reef habitats include rocky reefs, which occur along some 42% of the coastline. Biogenic reefs (i.e. built up by living organisms, including mussel and oyster beds in inshore waters, and polychaete worms and corals in inshore and offshore waters) are likely to be widely distributed in inshore and offshore waters, but are not yet well known. Sandbanks (Code1110) occur mainly in the Irish Sea, and have an important role in sediment transport and supply to shores along the east coast. The range and area of sea caves are not well known.
The main pressures and threats to coastal marine habitats identified by the Article 17 conservation status assessment were fishing/dredging, extraction, and construction. Water pollution from discharges, and possibly from aquaculture, are potentially impacting some large shallow inlets and bays sites.
There is a risk to partially enclosed inlets and bays from eutrophication. However, it should also be borne in mind that partially enclosed inlets and bays may also host important concentrations of wintering waterfowl that feed mainly within the intertidal habitats associated with the inlet or bay. In these types of sites, there are potential conflicts of nature conservation interests that will need to be carefully addressed in the consideration of water quality standards, and during the consideration of Waste Water Treatment Plant effluent standards, for example.

Sea caves are not well known, these habitats are not thought to be subject to significant adverse impacts, but faunal communities could be impacted by poor water quality.




3.3.1. Water dependent species associated with coastal marine habitats.

Annex II listed animal species which occur in coastal marine habitats are as follows:



Common name (#)

Scientific name

Overall Conservation Status

Grey Seal (40)

Halichoerus grypus

Favourable

Common Seal (32)

Phoca vitulina

Favourable

Bottle-nosed Dolphin (8)

Tursiops truncatus

Favourable

Harbour Porpoise (16)

Phocaena phocaena

Favourable

# Note: The number of SACs in which each species occurs as either a qualifying interest, or is present, is given in brackets


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