Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) welcomes a long-awaited byelaw for protecting sensitive seabed habitats and marine life. This legislation will extend areas closed to mobile fishing (such as trawling and dredging), to cover features within Dorset's two inshore Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), Poole Rocks and Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges.
The Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA) who manage the Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight coastline (out to 6 nautical miles), has announced the Bottom Towed Fishing Gear Byelaw. This byelaw, a remake from 2015 that included three European Marine Sites, will also protect Poole Rocks MCZ and rocky ground within Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ, both of which were designated in 2013.
Poole Rocks MCZ is a shallow site containing rocky outcrops attracting over 360 species, many of which are typically found at greater depths. It is designated for the rare Couch's goby and the threatened native oyster.
Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ is designated for its pink sea fans - slow-growing corals and the threatened native oyster. This area is the most vulnerable of the two MCZs and has been subject to a voluntary ban on scallop dredging over rocky ground which offered no certainty that it would hold into the future. This new byelaw will now help ensure the safety of this vulnerable site. Research has shown that when rocky reefs and their associated marine life are damaged by heavy fishing gear it can take many years to recover.
Emma Rance, DWT Marine Conservation officer said, "We are very pleased to hear that this byelaw has been confirmed. It will protect some of Dorset's most prized and sensitive marine habitats from the most damaging fishing methods representing 31% of Dorset's inshore waters - a great step forward for conservation. This byelaw will maintain the health, productivity and economic value of the marine environment for future generations of divers, anglers and inshore fishers."
Dive into Poole Rocks MCZ here.
For more information on Marine Protected Areas, click here.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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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 27,000 members and 44 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve and the Kingcombe Centre, Brownsea Island Nature Reserve, The Fine Foundation Marine Centre 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.