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2005-2006, Royal Haskoning, SeaGen Strangford Lough, Marine Species Visual Baseline Survey

2005-2006, Royal Haskoning, SeaGen Strangford Lough, Marine Species Visual Baseline Survey

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Marine Mammals


Marine Current Turbines Ltd has been granted permission by the Environment and
Heritage Service, Northern Ireland through provision of a Food and Environmental
Protection (FEPA) Licence, to install an experimental marine current turbine in the
Narrows of Strangford Lough.Strangford Lough supports a variety of marine habitats
and communities, with over 2,000 recorded species and is important for wintering and
breeding wetland birds, as well as for marine mammals, including seals, porpoises and
dolphins. This variety and richness of habitats and species has led to the Lough being
afforded the highest level of environmental protection namely, an international Ramsar
Site, European Special Area of Conservation (candidate) and Special Protection Area.
The Environment and Heritage Service (EHS), is the Government regulator for the
Department of Environment, Northern Ireland (DOENI). Permission to install the turbine
was granted by EHS on the condition that a rigorous and robust environmental
monitoring project was implemented to ensure that any changes caused by the
development, which might affect the integrity of the site, would be identified before
significant impact occurs. The visual observation baseline report in this series presents the results of 13 months of species
observation surveys. QUB have undertaken monthly surveys since May 2005 of marine
mammals and important bird species, all of which have the potential to be affected by
the installation and operation of the turbine. The result is a 13 month data set to June
2005 which forms an effective baseline from which all future observation data can be
compared. Changes in the animal sightings and behaviour that occur during the 5 years
of observations will now be detected through detailed statistical analysis of the data
undertaken by biometricians at SMRU. It is anticipated that this will support any changes
highlighted by visual interpretation of the future data sets. If actual significant changes
are detected, detailed investigation will allow the Science Group (as advisors) and EHS
(as regulators), to make judge whether the change detected is the direct result of the
installation or operation of the turbine, before the integrity of the site is significantly
impacted. Appropriate management action can then be undertaken.


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Final Report