The impact of extracting energy from marine environments upon host ecosystems is poorly understood. As such, integrated assessments are required to ensure ecological benefits are gained at the local and regional scale, while meeting the increased need to supply energy from renewable sources.
Work Package 3 of the MERiFIC project has enabled a collaborative partnership to develop between the University of Exeter, Cornwall Seal Group and Parc Naturel Marin d’Iroise (PNMI). The relationship has resulted in a fieldwork programme focusing upon the grey seal (Halichocerus grypus), a species found in the Isles of Scilly and within the Parc Naturel Marin d’Iroise. These regions are the focus of growing interest regarding marine renewable energy extraction from wind, wave and tidal resources. Given their proximity, the regions are likely connected with respect to seal movements; hence, human activities should be carefully considered.
The MERiFIC fieldwork programme in Work Package 3 has gathered data (for task 3.3.2) that will assist any future marine spatial planning activities with respect to marine renewable energy installation.
This document provides an overview of surveys conducted at the two study sites (N=19, 2011-2013). Surveys assessing the abundance of adult and juvenile grey seals were conducted in October 2011, January 2012, May 2012 (Isles of Scilly and PNMI), November 2013 (Isles of Scilly only), January 2013, December 2013 (PNMI only). A survey specific to grey seal pups was also conducted in the Isles of Scilly (October 2011). Each survey of the Isles of Scilly required a single survey team and was completed over two survey days. Each survey of Parc Naturel Marin d’Iroise required two survey teams and was completed in a single day. Surveys for grey seal pups in the Isles of Scilly required a single land-based survey team and covered four known sites in a single day.