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Seabed sediment and ecosystem data collection in support of MSFD, Natura and Habitat mapping

Project Outputs

Knowledge of offshore and coastal seabed sediment characteristics enable marine spatial planning decisions and contribute to fisheries resource management, aquaculture site selection, habitat mapping, conservation objectives and reporting under various environmental legislation including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Sediment classification charts, based on acoustic and ground-truthing data, are limited by the availability of sediment samples, which are critical to verify interpretations and provide greater confidence in the maps. Subsequently, there is an ongoing requirement for high resolution substrate maps that accurately depict the sediment properties of the seabed and improve our knowledge of the marine environment.

The EMFF Coastal Sediment Sampling Project proposes to conduct intense sediment sampling and environmental data collection (video and imagery) surveys on areas of interest in Ireland’s coastal waters to develop high resolution sediment maps, create habitat maps and support ancillary EMFF projects coordinated by the Marine Institute. Survey platforms will include appropriate commercial vessels (subject to tender) and/or the R.V. Kristina for inshore survey and the continued use of the R.V. Celtic Explorer and R.V. Celtic Voyager to conduct opportunistic offshore sampling where possible.

Potential Sites of interest include, Tralee Bay, to resolve existing sediment classification and to contribute to a proposed Inshore fisheries crayfish project; Achill Bay, where a significant number of sediment samples are required to create accurate Seabed Classification Charts and Habitat maps; Dungarvan Bay, to augment the Water Framework Directive Benthos sampling programme and, Galway Bay, to augment an oyster restoration project and to inform an OCIS sedimentation model in development. Further inshore areas may be considered subject to review as the project evolves. Finally, offshore sediment sampling will continue as per availability of relevant FEAS surveys.

Lack of adequate sediment data impacts the accuracy of key derived products such as substrate and habitat maps which are key to supporting Ireland’s Marine Spatial Plan, whilst the evolution of existing environmental sampling programs, implemented through this project, in support of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive have been identified as priority action(s) of the EMFF Operational Programme.


This project will run in 2021 and 2022

Project Outputs:
  1. Sediment Interpretation in line with international best practices catalogued / integrated within the Marine Atlas and/ or EMFF Sediment and Imagery viewer. 
  2. Interpretation and analysis of ancillary video data catalogued and integrated within the Marine Atlas and/ or EMFF Sediment and Imagery viewer.
  3. Creation of accurate sediment and substrate classification maps catalogued and integrated within the Marine Atlas and/ or EMFF Sediment and Imagery viewer.
Expected Benefit:
  • Quantitative, publicly available sediment information, seabed classification and habitat maps in support of reporting obligations under MSFD, WFD and the Marine Spatial Plan.
Further Information:
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