Following Defra's annoucement yesterday about the new Special Area of Conservation for Portland to Studland reefs, Dorset WildlifeTrust has issued the following statement from Peter Tinsley, Living Seas Manager:
"We are delighted by this long-awaited announcement. This is official recognition of the high, indeed international, value of reef habitats on Dorset’s seabed and the site will make a significant contribution to the network of marine protected areas around the UK.
brightly coloured sponges and corals, to low-lying shale ledges
The importance of the site was initially highlighted by the work of hundreds of volunteer divers recording seabed species and habitats through Seasearch, coordinated in Dorset by Dorset Wildlife Trust. Subsequent detailed survey work, particularly DWT’s DORIS seabed mapping project, has confirmed the extent and quality of reef habitats between Portland and Studland.
The variety within this site is impressive from extremely tide-swept hard-rock ledges and cliffs off Portland and St Albans Head, with brightly coloured sponges and corals, to low-lying shale ledges, riddled with boring piddocks or carpeted with brittlestars. Depths range from the seaweed-rich shallow waters to deep scoured holes, over 100m deep, off Portland Bill.
The condition of the reefs is currently very good testimony to the sensitive fishing methods used by the local inshore fishing community. This designation should now ensure that condition remains good, great news for the creatures living there and for those making a living from the site.
Protection as recommended Marine Conservation Zones
It is recognition, too, that our underwater landscapes and habitats are as worthy of protection as those on land and we especially welcome the protection that this designation will afford. A number of other local sites, mostly considerably smaller than this and covering other marine habitats from sand and gravel to seagrass meadows, are also being considered for protection as recommended Marine Conservation Zones. A decision on these sites is expected next year. You can support these sites by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZfriends"
For Defra's announcement, visit www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/09/13/studland-to-portland
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.
Corkwing wrasse - Paul Naylor
The Pink Seafan - Dorset Wildlife Trust