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In May 2008, a survey commissioned by JNCC undertook seabed habitat investigations of two areas of search (AoS) for offshore SAC's. The survey had two objectives:
1.To map the extent and condition of an area of potential Methane Derived Authigenic Carbonate which has formed reef-like structures in the mid-Irish Sea;
2.To map the extent and condition of bedrock and stony reef around Solan Bank off the north-west coast of Scotland.
Survey work within the "Submarine structures in the mid-Irish Sea" Area of Search took advantage of previous work undertaken by the SEA6 surveys commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry, and gathered additional high resolution acoustic data. High quality underwater imagery (video and still images) were also obtained, along with seabed samples, to help interpret the acoustic data.
The data from this survey will be assessed against established SAC site selection criteria to determine whether these Areas of Search could contribute to the UK marine Natura network.