Monitoring and surveillance options


The management of Marine SACs is intended to minimise the impact of human activities on the site, especially those features with conservation value and respective conservation objectives. Each site will need a programme to monitor the condition of interest features and assess the effectiveness of management measures. Such programmes should therefore provide sufficient information to determine the expected condition of shores in the absence of major human impacts. They should then regularly assess the condition of shores to check for degradation or change. They should also determine whether activities close to or within the SAC are having an impact on the shores.

The study of rocky shores has a long history testing ideas about ecology and recovery. Several features of rocky shores have made them ideal systems for developing and testing ideas about ecology. It has also been recognised that monitoring rocky shore communities is a convenient method for assessing various environmental impacts. As a consequence, numerous monitoring and surveillance options exist (see Lewis, 1976; Hiscock, 1985; Baker and Wolff, 1986; Raffaelli and Hawkins, 1996). Following from the SACs biological monitoring handbook (Hiscock, 1998), surveillance is defined as "a procedure by which a series of surveys is conducted in a sufficiently rigorous manner for changes in the attributes of a site (or species) to be detected over a period of time". Monitoring is defined as "surveillance undertaken to ensure that formulated standards are being maintained" (Hellawell, 1978), with the standards determined in advance. This chapter discusses the need for surveillance and monitoring of rocky shores and outlines some of the options available.

It is emphasised that the appropriate method can be chosen only after careful consideration of the question being addressed and the resources available. Consideration must be given to the scale, frequency, timing and resolution of surveys. Wherever possible monitoring should be undertaken in a hypothesis testing framework to disprove no change if testing for changes, or disprove changes if seeking to demonstrate no change.

General Considerations

Measurement of physical characteristics

Measuring biological attributes

Monitoring to detect impacts