DOI: 10.14466/CefasDataHub.34

RSMP Baseline Dataset


This dataset was compiled for the Regional Seabed Monitoring Plan (RSMP) baseline assessment reported in Cooper & Barry (2017).

The dataset comprises of 33,198 macrofaunal samples (83% with associated data on sediment particle size composition) covering large parts of the UK continental shelf. Whilst most samples come from existing datasets, also included are 2,500 new samples collected specifically for the purpose of this study. These new samples were collected during 2014-2016 from the main English aggregate dredging regions (Humber, Anglian, Thames, Eastern English Channel and South Coast) and at four individual, isolated extraction sites where the RSMP methodology is also being adopted (e.g. Area 457, North-West dredging region; Area 392, North-West dredging region; Area 376, Bristol Channel dredging region; Goodwin Sands, English Channel). This work was funded by the aggregates industry, and carried out by contractors on their behalf. Samples were collected in accordance with a detailed protocols document which included control measures to ensure the quality of faunal and sediment sample processing. Additional samples were acquired to fill in gaps in spatial coverage and to provide a contemporary baseline for sediment composition.

Sources of existing data include both government and industry, with contributions from the marine aggregate dredging, offshore wind, oil and gas, nuclear and port and harbour sectors. Samples have been collected over a period of 48 years from 1969 to 2016, although the vast majority (96%) were acquired since 2000. Samples have been collected during every month of the year, although there is a clear peak during summer months when weather conditions are generally more favourable for fieldwork.

The DOI includes multiple files for use with the R script that accompanies the paper: Cooper, K. M. & Barry, J. A big data approach to macrofaunal baseline assessment, monitoring and sustainable exploitation of the seabed. Scientific Reports 7, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11377-9 (2017). Files include:

  1. C5922 FINAL SCRIPTV91.R
  2. C5922DATASET13022017REDACTED.csv (Raw data)*
  3. Dataset description.xlsx (Description of data in C5922DATASET13022017.csv)
  4. PARTBAGG05022017.csv (Faunal Aggregation data)
  5. EUROPE.shp (European Coastline)
  6. EuropeLiteScoWal.shp (European Coastline with UK boundaries)
  7. AggregatesLicence20151112.shp (Aggregates Licensed extraction areas)
  8. AggregatesApplication20150813.shp (Aggregates Application areas)
  9. HUMBERLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - Humber)
  10. HSIZPSDPOLYGONSUNION_2014.shp (Humber SIZs)
  11. H492PIZ_APP.shp (Area 492 Application Area)
  12. ANGLIANLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - Anglian)
  14. THAMESLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - Thames)
  16. T50112SIZ_PSD.shp (Area 501 1/2 SIZ)
  17. EECLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas-East Channel)
  19. SCOASTLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - South Coast)
  21. BRISTOLCHANNELLICANDAPP.shp (Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - Bristol Channel)
  22. BC_SIZ2.shp (Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary SIZs)
  23. NORTHWESTLICANDAPP.shp(Licensed Extraction and Application Areas - North West)
  25. AREA457PSD.shp (Area 457 SIZ)
  26. GOODWIN LICENCE FINAL POLYGON.shp (Goodwin Sands Extraction area)
  27. GoodwinSIZ.shp (Goodwin Sands SIZ)
  28. DEFRADEMKC8.shp (Seabed bathymetry)

*At the request of data owners, macrofaunal abundance and sediment particle size data have been redacted from 13 of the 777 surveys (1.7%) in the dataset. Note that metadata and derived variables are still included. Surveys with redacted data include:


  1. TRIKNOOWF2008,
  2. EAOWF (Owner: East Anglia Offshore Wind Limited),
  3. Wight BarfleurcSACinfauna,
  4. MPAFORTH2011,
  5. Hinkely point 108 benthos survey (BEEMS-WP2),
  6. Hinkely point 208 benthos survey (BEEMS-WP2),
  7. Hinkely point 408 benthos survey (BEEMS-WP2),
  8. Hinkely point 308 benthos survey (BEEMS-WP2),
  9. BEEMS WP2 Hinkley Point Q2 2009,
  10. BEEMS WP5 Hinkley Point Infauna,
  11. Hinkley Point 510 benthic survey (WP2-BEEMS),
  12. Hinkley Point benthos survey June 2011 (BEEMS-WP2),
  13. Hinkley Point benthos survey Feb 2010 (BEEMS-WP2)

Cefas will only make redacted data available where the data requester can provide written permission from the relevant data owner(s) - see below. Note that it is the responsibility of the data requester to seek permission from the relevant data owners.

Data owners for the redacted surveys listed above are:

  1. Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm Limited
  2. East Anglia Offshore Wind Limited
  3. Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  4. Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  5. EDF Energy
  6. EDF Energy
  7. EDF Energy
  8. EDF Energy
  9. EDF Energy
  10. EDF Energy
  11. EDF Energy
  12. EDF Energy
  13. EDF Energy

Description of the C5922DATASET13022017.csv/ C5922DATASET13022017REDACTED.csv (Raw data)

A variety of gear types have been used for sample collection including grabs (0.1m2 Hamon, 0.2m2 Hamon, 0.1m2 Day, 0.1m2 Van Veen and 0.1m2 Smith McIntrye) and cores. Of these various devices, 93% of samples were acquired using either a 0.1m2 Hamon grab or a 0.1m2 Day grab. Sieve sizes used in sample processing include 1mm and 0.5mm, reflecting the conventional preference for 1mm offshore and 0.5mm inshore (see Figure 2). Of the samples collected using either a 0.1m2 Hamon grab or a 0.1m2 Day grab, 88% were processed using a 1mm sieve.

Taxon names were standardised according to the WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species) list using the Taxon Match Tool ( Of the initial 13,449 taxon names, only 4,248 remained after correction. The output from this tool also provides taxonomic aggregation information, allowing data to be analysed at different taxonomic levels - from species to phyla. The final dataset comprises of a single sheet comma-separated values (.csv) file. Colonials accounted for less than 20% of the total number of taxa and, where present, were given a value of 1 in the dataset. This component of the fauna was missing from 325 out of the 777 surveys, reflecting either a true absence, or simply that colonial taxa were ignored by the analyst. Sediment particle size data were provided as percentage weight by sieve mesh size, with the dataset including 99 different sieve sizes. Sediment samples have been processed using sieve, and a combination of sieve and laser diffraction techniques. Key metadata fields include: Sample coordinates (Latitude & Longitude), Survey Name, Gear, Date, Grab Sample Volume (litres) and Water Depth (m). A number of additional explanatory variables are also provided (salinity, temperature, chlorophyll a, Suspended particulate matter, Water depth, Wave Orbital Velocity, Average Current, Bed Stress). In total, the dataset dimensions are 33,198 rows (samples) x 13,588 columns (variables/factors), yielding a matrix of 451,094,424 individual data values.


Cooper, Keith (Cefas Laboratory), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA), Cemex UK Marine Limited, The Crown Estate, Dredging International, Lafarge Tarmac Marine Limited, Volker Dredging Limited, Hanson Aggregates Marine Limited, Natural England (NE) / The Crown Estate (TCE) / Resource Management Association (RMA), Resource Management Association (RMA), Sea Aggregates & Slag Limited, Britannia Aggregates Limited, Westminster Gravels Limited, DBM Building Materials, Humber Aggregate Dredging Association (HADA), Anglian Offshore Dredging Association (AODA), Thames Estuary Dredging Association (TEDA), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), East Channel Association (ECA), South Coast Dredging Association, Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited, Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm Limited, Tarmac Marine Dredging Limited / Kendall Bros (Portsmouth) Limited, DEME Building Materials, Centrica Energy, United Marine Dredging Limited, Natural England (NE), United Marine Dredging Limited / Kendal Bros Portsmouth Limited, South Coast Shipping Co Limited, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Humber Wind Limited, Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm Limited, East Anglia Offshore Wind Limited, E.ON Climate & Renewables UK Limited, Dong Wind (UK) Limited, Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Limited, Gunfleet Sands II Limited (Dong Wind (UK) Limited, Galloper Wind Farm Limited, UKOOA, BP, Phillips, Britoil, Shell, Wintershall, Fisheries Research Services (FRS), Lincs Wind Farm Limited (Centrica (DSW) Limited), Centrica (DSW) Limited, Environment Agency (EA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Natural England (NE) / Natural Resources Wales (NRW), RWE Innogy, Westermost Rough Limited, Vattenfall, Dong Energy (UK) Limited, Dong Energy Walney Extension (UK) Limited, Ormonde Energy Limited, Innogy SE, Gunfleet Sands Limited, Scira Offshore Energy Limited, Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI), E.ON Climate & Renewables UK Rampion Offshore Wind Limited (E.ON Climate & Renewables GmbH), EDF Energy (Northern Offshore Wind) Limited (EDF Energy Renewables), Forewind, Walney (UK) Offshore Windfarms Limited (Dong Wind (UK) Limited),Total, GDF Suez, Chevron, Gaz de France, BHP, Mobil, GDF Britain Limited, E.ON Climate & Renewables UK Robin Rigg West Limited (E.ON Climate & Renewables UK Limited), West of Duddon Sands, London Array Limited, Thanet Offshore Wind Limited (Vattenfall Vindkraft AB), Kentish Flats Limited (Vattenfall Wind Power Limited), Centrica Renewable Energy Limited (Centrica PLC), Teeside Windfarm Limited (EDF Energy Renewables), Tarmac Marine Dredging Limited / Norwest Sand & Ballast Company Limited, Neart Na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Limited (Mainstream Renewable Power), SSE Renewables (Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)), Celtic Array Limited, EDF Energy, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) / Environment Agency (EA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) / School of Ocean Sciences (SOS), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Marine Scotland (MS), Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Hanson Aggregates Marine Limited / United Marine Dredging Limited, Llanelli Sand Dredging Limited, Dover Harbour Board (DHB), DONG Energy AS


Circalittoral, Sediment

Start Date


End Date


Year Published





Cooper et al. (2017). RSMP Baseline Dataset. Cefas, UK. V1. doi: