Above: Juvenile bream © Mike Markey. Below: Boats at Studland Bay © Dorset Wildlife Trust and Seagrass meadow © Christine Roberts
Dorset Wildlife Trust believes that designating Studland Bay as a Marine Conservation Zone would provide a win-win result for wildlife, boaters, fishermen and local communities.
Studland Bay is one of 37 sites around England which are currently being considered to join the developing network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and is the only Dorset site in this round. Dorset Wildlife Trust is creating a new document to show our ‘vision’ for the future of the bay should it be chosen as a MCZ. As well as benefiting the invaluable marine life that lives there, including seahorses, endangered undulate rays, native oysters, breeding cuttlefish and commercially fished species, we highlight the benefits to recreational users of the bay, the local fishing industry and local communities.
Designation of this site is not just about protecting wildlife; the people who live and visit there could benefit too. Advantages to be gained include increased water safety for boaters, swimmers and other water sports, increased security for the local fishing industry by protecting this important fish and shellfish nursery area and the potential for greater economic gains for the local community.
Addressing the concerns of boaters
The concerns of visiting boaters have also been addressed in our Vision for Studland Bay Marine Conservation Zone. Among these is the affirmation that the bay should remain a safe haven for boaters in bad weather, the aim to address their concerns about speeding boats within the speed restriction area and the provision of eco-friendly moorings to enable boat visitors to tie up without having to drop their anchor in seagrass.
We also suggest provision of information for visitors to the bay to help them avoid disturbance to the seabed and wildlife. This would include voluntary codes for activities such as snorkelling and kayaking as well as promotion of the RYA’s guidance for boaters; development of information displays, leaflets and events focussing on the wildlife of the bay; and managing research and monitoring to better understand changes that are happening to the flora and fauna.
Help turn our Vision into reality
With your help our vision for Studland Bay as a well-managed Marine Conservation Zone could become a reality. By showing your support and joining the growing band of MCZ friends of Studland Bay, and by responding to the public consultation which is due to run from January until March 2015, we can demonstration to the government that there is significant local and national support for this extraordinary site to be protected. You can join as a MCZ Friend at www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZfriends