(Above) Seahorse © Julie Hatcher (below) Undulate Ray © Peter Tinsley
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is shocked and bitterly disappointed that Studland Bay has not been included in the latest MCZ (Marine Conservation Zone) public consultations.
23 other sites around England are being considered, as well as additional conservation features for the Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ and the South Dorset MCZ, which were designated after the last public consultations.
DWT’s Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher said, “Currently there is still no protection in place for Studland Bay, despite clear ecological evidence in support of the designation, and Natural England identifying it as a site at high risk of damage. During a survey carried out in 2013, 88% of boaters questioned* expressed support for protection for Studland Bay.”
Studland Bay important for both seahorses, fish and undulate ray
Studland Bay is home to a large seagrass meadow, which is a priority conservation habitat and important for both UK seahorse species the spiny seahorse and the short snouted seahorse. It also provides a nursery area for a range of commercial fish species such as bream, plaice, sole, pollack and bass, and for the endangered undulate ray.
Julie adds: “DWT believes that management measures are available that will allow recreational boaters to carry on visiting the bay and strengthen the local economy. Defra has not taken into account that there are potential economic benefits of designating the site and restoring it to its full health.”
How you can help Studland Bay
DWT is looking for as much support as possible to get Studland Bay considered in the next set of public consultations. To send an email to Defra asking them to consider this important site for protection, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/saveMCZs. To sign up to become an MCZ friend at www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZfriends.
*The Studland Seagrass Report 2013 written by Darren Lloyd and Lynn Marsland, Studland wardens who carried out a questionnaire of boaters at Studland from their kayak.
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620 or 07436158325.
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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.