Sanday SAC

Sanday is a large, low-lying island in the north-east of the Orkney archipelago. Surrounded by clear, relatively shallow water, the island has a complex coastline dominated by extensive sandy beaches and sheltered inlets, interspersed with rocky headlands. Sanday is notable for the extensive subtidal bedrock reefs that surround the island and provide a habitat for dense forests of kelp Laminaria spp. The kelp occurs to a depth of about 20 m and provides a habitat for species-rich, red algal turf communities. Sponges, such as Clathrina coriacea, and ascidians, such as Aplidium punctum, occur on the vertical rock faces. The north coast of Sanday is tide-swept and appears to support a richer fauna than the south coast, with a dense bryozoan/hydroid turf and dense brittlestar and horse mussel Modiolus modiolus beds in mixed sediment below the kelp zone. Crabs and brittlestars are common within crevices in the rock [1].

Sanday Island is also home to a large number of harbour seal, an important predator in our ecosystem and one which is now increasing in the North Sea after years of decline in the past. 

The public consultation for fisheries management measures in this site ran until February 2015.

Read our response to the Fisheries Management measures here:

Sanday SAC - fisheries management map
Save Scottish Seas campaign members fully support the proposed management approach to prohibit the use of mobile demersal.

We agree with the management advice to remove/avoid pressure for reefs and sandbanks, as any activity which has abrasive impacts or which causes an increase in suspended sediment on or near these features may risk the health of the bed and the biodiversity it supports, such as juvenile fish and shellfish and seagrass beds. We support the continuation of hand diving for scallops, a
successful and sustainable industry in and around Orkney, and static fishing by creeling, provided that it is operated at environmentally sustainable levels and is closely monitored for physical environmental impacts.

We note that harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) are also a qualifying Annex II feature of the Sanday SAC (and a Priority Marine Feature) and we suggest that this species should also be considered as part of the management for this site. Harbour seals are an important predator in our ecosystem and one which has declined by as much as 63% in Orkney waters between 2001 and 200840. Seals are known to be impacted by fisheries activities as a result of damage or alteration of habitat and foraging grounds, disturbance by noise from vessels and possible physical injury or death from corkscrew impacts, where boats are fitted with ducted propellors41. Seals are also often entangled in active or
discarded static fishing gear and may also be threatened by decline in prey fish stocks such as sandeels due to poorly managed fisheries42 or may come into direct competition with fishermen for prey. We suggest that there is strong scientific evidence to justify the need for better management for seals in active fishing areas, for the conservation of a key predator and for the benefit of local
fishermen. The proposed management approach, to prohibit mobile demersal gear from this site, will benefit the harbour seal by potentially reducing the amount of underwater noise, as well as preventing damage to key foraging habitats such as the seagrass beds and sandflats. However we think that further research should be conducted to investigate the foraging range of seals around
colonies or haul out sites and the impacts of static gear on seals in their foraging areas. It may be necessary to review the use and management of static gear around seal haul out sites.

You can view the full response to the 2015 management measures for Tranche 1 inshore MPAs and SACs here.


Contact the Save Scottish Seas team

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