NATURA 2000 Intertidal Benthic Sampling and Analysis

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NATURA 2000 Intertidal Benthic Sampling and Analysis

Marine Institute

RPS undertook a scientific study assessing the impact of aquaculture activities on the status of communities and habitats designated under the Habitats Directive.

The study investigated the impacts of trestle oyster aquaculture on the surrounding intertidal sedimentary habitats and associated communities. RPS was appointed to design and execute extensive benthic surveys at six cultivation sites within designated Natura 2000 sites. Our team developed a systematic approach to assess and compare impacts associated with culture activity on intertidal habitats across multiple geographical sites across Ireland.

The novel approach developed by RPS involved using Water Framework Directive tools to compare communities and habitats across Natura 2000 sites based on the sensitivity of faunal communities to disturbance impacts. The approach highlighted the potential of Water Framework Directive tools for the management of aquaculture activity and successfully delivered the information required to support national efforts in assessing potential impacts from aquaculture operations.