Today Defra released its long-awaited consultation on the next stages of designation of Marine Conservation Zones in English and non-devolved waters.
The three Dorset sites included in the consultation are Poole Rocks in Poole Bay, Chesil & Stennis Ledges and South Dorset
Along with other English Wildlife Trusts, Dorset Wildlife Trust is disappointed by the lack of ambition shown in this consultation. Defra proposes to designate only 31 of the 127 sites recommended by experts and stakeholders at the end of August last year. The 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years of hard work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government. The three Dorset sites included in the consultation are Poole Rocks in Poole Bay, Chesil & Stennis Ledges, home to rare pink seafans and native oysters and South Dorset, an area of mixed seabed habitats lying in deeper water.
In Dorset, we are especially surprised and dismayed that Studland is not included.
Peter Tinsley, Living Seas Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “We are disappointed that promised coherent network of marine protected areas is not going to be delivered by designating such a small number of sites nationally. The network was designed to ensure that we don’t end up with isolated and vulnerable sites and to ensure that the wide range of marine habitats found in UK seas are protected.
The UK’s marine habitats are rich and diverse but largely unprotected
In Dorset, we are especially surprised and dismayed that Studland is not included. The evidence and the ecological value of this site are overwhelming and we will be arguing strongly for its inclusion. We accept that the site at Kimmeridge is too small to be viable and will argue that it should be increased, and we will push for the inclusion of the South of Portland site, which includes the extraordinary underwater cliffs of Portland Deep.”
The UK’s marine habitats are rich and diverse but largely unprotected - which is why The Wildlife Trusts spent a decade asking the government to pass the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. This included a commitment to designate this ecologically coherent marine network of protected areas.
The Wildlife Trusts will be responding to the Government consultation at the end of January. For more information about the sites and what you can do to help click here.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Peter Tinsley at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature.
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.