Hard decisions taken now could ensure the survival of healthy seas for our
grandchildren to enjoy, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. This year will see the
most far-reaching decisions for Dorset’s marine wildlife in decades.
With Government plans to create the first network of British marine reserves by 2012, this summer is the deadline for proposed boundaries to be submitted to Defra for the new marine reserves.
No fishing or dredging allowed in highly protected areas
While low-impact forms of fishing and many other activities will continue in the new reserves, there will also be a number of small, highly protected or ‘reference’ areas, where no fishing, dredging or other human disturbance will be allowed. These areas will focus on key features of conservation interest (FOCI), which include special habitats and a list of 32 species which are rare or threatened, including seahorses, pink seafans and undulate rays. Discussions are being held between fishermen, divers, boat users and conservation groups to agree the siting of these smaller zones as part of Finding Sanctuary, the partnership body with responsibility for the task in the south-west.
Angel Shark and Common Skate are now critically endangered
Julie Hatcher, Marine Awareness Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Although
these ‘highly protected marine reserves‘ will be a very small part of the marine reserve network, they will undoubtedly restrict some fishing and recreational activity in the short-term; but if we don’t act now to stop the decline of our marine wildlife, there could be nothing left for our grandchildren to enjoy. These reference areas are vital, as they will act as benchmarks for understanding how human activities affect marine life, showing us what a healthy and undamaged sea is like something we can hardly imagine at the moment. Older Dorset residents remember seeing schools of harbour porpoise from Dorset’s cliffs and catching large angel shark and common skate, both of which are now critically endangered. For the sake of future generations of fishermen in Dorset we need to make some tough decisions today”.
Finding Sanctuary will submit proposals for the marine reserve and reference area boundaries by the 31st August 2011. The Government will launch a public consultation in October 2011 before making final decisions.
For more information about Dorset’s marine wildlife click here.
For more information please contact Peter Tinsley at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
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.