JNCC have prepared updated formal conservation advice for Anton Dohrn SAC. Further information is available on the Conservation Advice tab below



Anton Dohrn Seamount MPA



Status: Special Area of Conservation (SAC)


Anton Dohrn Seamount is situated 230 km west of the Outer Hebrides, to the west of Scotland. The seamount is an extinct volcano with steep sides and a relatively flat top that is approximately 40km in diameter.


The seamount hosts a range of Annex I reef sub-types, including bedrock reef in the upper regions of the seamount and stony reefs on the lower flanks. In addition, there are biogenic cold-water coral reefs present along the edge of the seamount cliffs and on smaller volcanic structures called parasitic cones at the base of the seamount. The bedrock reefs, and the stony reefs further down the flanks, support a diverse range of species including sea cucumbers, brittlestars, corals and sponges. At the bottom of the flanks of the seamount, the stony reef gives way to finer gravels, which are colonised by many large single-celled organisms, known as xenophyophores. The biogenic reefs are interspersed with dense aggregations of corals typical in places of the OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining habitat known as ‘coral gardens’, as well as sponges, sea urchins and sea lilies.

More detailed site information can be found on the Summary tab.


Click to link to the interactive map



Map displaying MPA boundary and associated protected

feature data. Visit the JNCC MPA Mapper to further

 view and explore data for this MPA.


Legislation behind the designation: EU Habitats Directive 1992 transposed into UK law by the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.


Protected features

Features Feature Type
1170 Reefs Annex I habitat*

*For the latest Annex I habitat resource figures, please see the link to the latest Habitats Directive Article 17 reporting in the Assessment tab.


The acquisition of new data may result in updates to our knowledge on feature presence and extent within this site. The most up to date information is reflected on the map on this page and in JNCC’s MPA mapper and the evidence underpinning this can be viewed in the Evidence tab.

Site Timeline

The diagram below is a summary of the key milestones involved in the selection and designation of Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC.  More detail can be found within the Relevant Documentation below.

Anton Dohrn Timeline

Relevant Documentation

The documents referred to below and any other historical documents relating to Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC were produced during the selection and designation process and therefore may be out of date.  This Site Information Centre is the most up to date source of information for this MPA, and will reflect any additional information gathered since these documents were produced. Information about the SAC site selection process is available on the JNCC SAC pages.





Last updated: January 2019


The information for this site summary was adapted from documents listed in the Relevant Documentation section and incorporates any further information gathered since these documents were produced. 


Site overview

Anton Dohrn Seamount is located to the west of Scotland, about 200km from the Outer Hebrides in the Rockall Trough, a deep water channel in the North-east Atlantic. The seamount is a former volcano, roughly circular in shape, and was last active 40 – 70 million years ago. The top is fairly uniform in depth (at 1,100m) and is surrounded by steep cliff slopes extending down towards a moat at ~2,400m water depth. The seamount is approximately 1,800m high from the deepest point of the moat to the crest of the feature, and about 40km in diameter. On the lower flanks, parasitic cones occur that were formed when volcanic material erupted from lateral fractures rather than the central vent.

The site contains a series of bedrock, stony and biogenic reefs – sub-types of Annex I reef. The upper regions of the seamount flanks are bedrock reef grading to stony reef on the lower flanks. These habitats support assemblages of sea cucumbers, brittlestars, cup corals and sponges. At the base of the seamount flanks, bedrock and stony reef outcrop on ridges, extending radially from the centre of the seamount, and on parasitic cones. In places, both these features support dense aggregations of sea whips (or sea fans) and other corals, in communities known as ‘coral gardens’ – an OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining habitat. Also present is biogenic reef formed from Lophelia pertusa and Solenosmilia variabilis cold-water corals. This structurally complex habitat supports a diverse and unique range of fauna, including black corals, sea whips, soft corals and stony corals.

Within the Rockall Trough and Bank Regional Sea, where Anton Dohrn Seamount is situated, there are three other SACs designated for the presence of Annex I reef: Darwin Mounds SAC, North West Rockall Bank SAC and East Rockall Bank SAC. Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC provides the only example of a mixture of stony, bedrock and biogenic reef subtypes on a seamount. Recommendation of all these sites within the same Regional Sea is justified partly because of the differences between the reef types at each site (structure and associated communities) to ensure the variation of types is represented in the network of SACs, and partly to ensure sufficient proportion of the total UK resource of reef is included within the UK SAC network. Further detail on the evidence for this SAC can be found on the Evidence tab.


Site location:  Coordinates for this SAC can be found in the Natura 2000 Standard Data Form listed in the Relevant Documentation.

Site area: 1429 km2

Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC covers a similar area to the Peak District National Park (1,437 km2).

Site depth range:  From the summit of the seamount 760m below sea level, the flanks descend to approximately 2,400m below sea level at the base of the seamount.

Charting Progress 2 Biogeographic Region: Atlantic North-West Approaches, Rockall Trough and the Faeroe/Shetland Channel.


Site boundary description
The boundary is a relatively simple polygon enclosing the minimum area necessary to ensure protection of the Annex I habitat. The cSAC boundary has been drawn in a ring shape that incorporates the Annex I habitats on the cliff edge, seamount flanks, radial ridges and parasitic cones. It excludes the central summit of the seamount, which comprises mostly sands and gravels, in order to reduce the area of ‘non-Annex I’ feature within the site boundary. As bottom trawling could threaten the Annex I reef feature, the site boundary includes a margin to allow for the mobile gear on the seabed being some distance from the vessel.  The Annex I features at the foot of the seamount slope are situated at a maximum of 2000m water depth. Assuming a ration of 2:1 fishing warp length to depth on the continental shelf, the outer extent of the boundary is defined to include a margin of approximately 4000m from the reef features. The Annex I features at the summit edge are located at approximately 1000m water depth. The inner extent of the boundary, therefore, includes a margin of approximately 2000m from the reef feature.




Last updated: January 2019


There is a range of data that underpin this SAC. The full overview of the data used to support site identification along with information on confidence in feature presence and extent is available in the Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC Selection Assessment Document. JNCC will be adding relevant survey data for this MPA to the JNCC MPA mapper. Some of the data for this SAC has been collected through JNCC funded or collaborative surveys and some through other means.  Data from these surveys provide direct evidence confirming the presence of the protected features within the site.


Survey and data gathering

  • Deep Links Project (2016) - A collaborative project between Plymouth University's Deep Sea CRU and University of Oxford, in partnership with JNCC and British Geological Survey, funded by NERC. During May and June 2016 the team undertook a 6 week research cruise in the North East Atlantic, including Anton Dohrn Seamount, on board the RRS James Cook collecting data. This project aims to investigate the theory that populations at bathyal depths are more isolated because the currents that transport larvae decrease with depth.
  • JNCC/British Geological Survey/University of Plymouth surveys of Anton Dohrn and East Rockall Bank (2009) - Commissioned by JNCC and undertaken by the British Geological Survey, University of Plymouth and Marin Mättenik AB, this survey took place between the 1st and 29th of July 2009. The survey collected high quality acoustic and photographic ‘ground-truthing’ data to enable the distribution, extent and biological characterisation of the Annex I reef. For further information, see the cruise report (Stewart et al., 2009):
  • Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Surveys off North of Scotland (2005) - The SEA surveys were commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department for Energy and Climate Change). These surveys, in which JNCC collaborated, collected multibeam and underwater imagery data from areas off the north and west coasts of Scotland.


Data analysis reports

Analyses of data gathered as part of the surveys listed above, as well as other relevant data analysis products, are available via the following reports:


Additional relevant literature

References for further supporting scientific literature consulted during the identification of this site can be found in the Selection Assessment. Please be aware that although these sources contain information in relation to this MPA, they do not necessarily represent the views of JNCC.

  • Davies J.S., Stewart H.A., Narayanaswamy B.E., Jacobs C., Spicer J., Golding N. and Howell K.L. (2015) Benthic Assemblages of the Anton Dohrn Seamount (NE Atlantic): Defining Deep-Sea Biotopes to Support Habitat Mapping and Management Efforts with a Focus on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. PLoS ONE 10 (5): e0124815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124815 - Analysis of still images and video ground truthing identified 13 biological communities (biotopes) on the flanks of Anton Dohrn Seamount that can be applied in habitat mapping.


Knowledge gaps
If you are aware of any additional information not referred to in the Relevant Documentation or here, please contact JNCC


Conservation Advice


Last updated: March 2018


Updated formal conservation advice is now available for this MPA.  Further information on the approach used to develop this advice is available on the Conservation Advice webpage along with a Glossary of Terms used in JNCC conservation advice and a short video explaining how to use the conservation advice packages. 

You must refer to this advice if you:

  • undertake a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) for a plan or project that could impact the site;
  • provide information for a HRA;
  •  respond to specific measures to support delivery of the conservation objectives for the site; and 
  • consider the need to put new or additional management measures in place.


You may also find it useful to refer to this advice if you:

  • carry out any other activity that could impact the site.


We will engage with stakeholders to identify any lessons which JNCC can learn from customers who have used the advice, with a view to continuing to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.


The following table provides an overview of the components of the conservation advice, and provides hyperlinks to each of the products for this MPA.  These elements together form JNCC’s formal conservation advice for this site and should be read in conjunction with each other.  This updated advice replaces the previous Regulation 18 package for the site.  This advice reflects the most up-to-date evidence held by JNCC (correct as of March 2018).  A zipped folder enabling these documents to be downloaded together is available at the bottom of this page.




Background Information


Explains the purpose of the advice and when it must be referred to.

Conservation Objectives


Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO)


The Conservation Objectives set out the broad ecological aims for the site. JNCC provide supplementary advice in the SACO which is essential reading to support interpretation of these conservation objectives.

You can use these documents to assess the impacts of your planned activity on the important attributes of the site.


Please note our current understanding of whether the available evidence indicates that each attribute needs to be restored or maintained is not provided here. However, links to available evidence for the site are provided and should you require further site-specific information for the site, please contact JNCC at: offshorempas@jncc.gov.uk.

Conservation advice statements

These statements provide a summary of the Supplementary Advice on the Conservation Objectives (SACO).


  • Site condition presents our up to date understanding of the condition of features within the site;
  • Conservation benefits which the site can provide, these help you understand what is important about the site and why it needs protecting; and
  • Conservation measures which JNCC consider are needed to support achievement of the conservation objectives. These provide clarity around measures needed to support restoration or maintenance of the feature(s) within the site.


Advice on operations


Provides information on the activities capable of affecting site integrity and therefore achievement of the site’s conservation objectives.

This is a starting point for determining potential management requirements. It does not take into account the intensity, frequency or cumulative impacts from activities taking place. It is simply to advise you of the possible adverse impacts that your activity can have on a MPA’s features.

Use the advice on operations to determine those pressures your activity causes that could harm the habitat and/or species features of the site.






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Activities and Management


Last updated: June 2017


Management status: Progressing towards being well managed


Progress is ongoing with the recommendation of fisheries management proposals to the European Commission and ongoing site condition monitoring work will be required in order to conclude with confidence as to the degree to which the site is moving towards or achieving its conservation objectives.


This site forms part of the UK's contribution to the OSPAR commissions network of MPAs, Europe’s Natura 2000 network and the Emerald network established under the Bern Convention. As the UK is a signatory to the OSPAR commission, JNCC are committed to ensuring that the OSPAR MPA network is ‘well-managed’ by 2020.

JNCC consider ‘well-managed’ to mean the timely progress of an MPA around the ‘MPA management cycle’. This involves:

  1. The documentation of appropriate management information - conservation objectives, advice on activities capable of affecting the protected features of a site, and spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected features of a site.
  2. The implementation of management measures - management actions considered necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of a site.
  3. Site condition monitoring programmes – collecting the information necessary to determine progress towards a sites conservation objectives.
  4. Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives – using available information to infer whether or not a site is moving towards or has achieved its conservation objectives.


The sub-sections that follow provide an account of the progress of Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC around each of the four stages in the MPA management cycle.

The documentation of appropriate management information

  • The conservation objectives and advice on activities capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected feature of this site are available under the conservation advice tab.
  • JNCC are in the process of improving our MPA conservation advice packages. Further information is available on our conservation advice pages.
  • Spatial information on the presence and extent of the protected feature of this MPA is available via JNCC's MPA mapper.
  • JNCC are in the process of developing downloadable MPA data packages where appropriate permissions to share datasets are in place.


The implementation of management measures
This section details progress towards the implementation of management measures for activities considered capable of affecting the conservation status of the protected feature of the site. The protected feature of the site is considered to be sensitive to pressures associated with fishing and ‘licensable’ activities.



  • There is evidence of mobile demersal and pelagic fishing activity within the MPA and UK and non-UK registered vessels have been active in the area.
  • The site falls outside the UK’s 12 nautical mile limit and is to be exclusively managed under the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In accordance with Article 18 of the revised CFP, requests for management will be developed jointly between the UK Government and any Member States with a direct management interest in the area affected.
  • Marine Scotland are the lead authority regarding the implementation of, and compliance with, any measures to managing fishing activity. Further information on progress is available via Marine Scotland’s web pages.
  • In 2011, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advised the EU that indicator species for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) are present on the seamount, and recommended an area that should be closed to all bottom contacting fishing gears to protect these VMEs. At present, the EU has not implemented this advice.

Licensable activities

  • Whilst ‘licensable’ activities such as oil and gas exploration and production do not take place within Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC at present, any future proposals would have to comply with Article 6(3) of the EU Habitats Directive 1992, which is transposed into UK law by the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
  • Our conservation advice supports the consents process by setting out the conservation objectives for the protected feature of this MPA and advice on activities that may result in pressures to which the protected feature is considered sensitive.
  • Further information on JNCC's role in the provision of advice for licensed activities in the UK offshore area is available on JNCCs offshore industries advice webpage



  • There is a radio calling in point present in the site boundary and parts of the site may be crossed by ships.
  • Under international law, ships have a right of passage at sea including in areas designated as MPAs (unless management specifies the restriction of ship transiting as outlined through international maritime organisational measure). The pressures associated with shipping activity within Anton Dohrn Seamount SAC are not considered likely to impact the protected features of the site.


Site condition monitoring
Fishing vessel monitoring data is used to monitor compliance with the management measure in place.
Site condition monitoring surveys are yet to take place within this MPA.
Further information will be made available under the monitoring tab in due course.


Assessment of progress towards conservation objectives
No long-term condition monitoring data is available to determine whether the MPA is moving towards or has reached its conservation objectives. The site has a ‘restore’ conservation objective based on the findings of a vulnerability assessment which suggests the site is unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives. Further information will be provided under the assessment tab as it becomes available.




Last updated: June 2017


JNCC is currently leading on the development of a strategy for biodiversity monitoring across all UK waters, to include MPA monitoring. Data and evidence collected from MPA monitoring activities will aim to:

  • Enable assessment of condition of the features within sites;
  • Enable assessment of the degree to which management measures are effective in achieving the conservation objectives for the protected features;
  • Support the identification of priorities for future protection and/or management; and,
  • Enable Government to fulfil its national and international assessment and reporting commitments in relation to MPAs and help identify where further action may be required.

Information on monitoring of this MPA will be provided when it becomes available.




Last updated: January 2019


Assessments of the condition of designated features in offshore MPAs are required to report against our legal obligations. Ideally these assessments should be based on observed data, and then measured against targets for predefined indicators. However, for MPAs in offshore waters we do not always have the appropriate information to be able to do so. This is particularly true for seabed habitats, which are the main type of feature designated for protection in offshore MPAs. 


To address these challenges, JNCC has been an active partner in the development of new approaches and tools for the assessment of habitats and species for a variety of national and international status reports. They include the second cycle of the Conservation Status Assessment reports under the EU Habitats Directive, Charting Progress 2 (CP2), the OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR) and the most recent OSPAR Intermediate Assessment 2017. JNCC continues to develop and pilot tools for the assessment of marine habitats and species in offshore waters to improve the quality and transparency of our offshore MPA assessments, and contribute to the monitoring of marine biodiversity in UK waters. These tools cover methods for producing interim assessments of site features and their responses to pressures, as well as developing more robust indicators for determining condition of the features.


Every six years, Member States are required under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive to report on the Conservation Status of Annex I habitats and Annex II species on the Habitats Directive.  The assessments should consider the habitat or species both within the Natura 2000 network and in the wider sea.  The latest report was submitted by the UK in 2013 and provided a second assessment of the conservation status of relevant habitats and species within UK marine waters during 2007-2012. The next report is for the period 2013-2018 and is due in 2019; information on the condition of features within SACs will make a contribution to this report. 


The assessments of features within MPAs will also feed into six yearly reports on the state of the marine environment under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.



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