Marine Conservation Zones 

On 8th June, World Ocean's Day, Government launched a consultation asking the public for their views about protecting 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in English waters – areas at sea where wildlife is protected from damaging activities.
This consultation is now closed.  Over 20,000 people registered their "Wave of Support" to help get these sites designated.  The final decision will be taken within the next 12 months.  Thank you for your support 


Are There Any Sites Recommended in Dorset?

Six sites have been recommended for possible designation.  These range from Portland Deep to West of Wight Barfleur and are the light green areas in the map below.  (Refresh the page to see underlying sites).

Dorset MPAs T3 MCZs 2018

Map of the Dorset sea area showing the various Marine Protected Areas
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.  ©OpenStreetMap contributers

Why Have These Sites Been Recommended? 

This round of designation is about completing the network of MPAs around England.  The Dorset contribution includes sites recommended back in 2013, but not yet designated; additional sites needed to cover seabed habitats that were under-represented and sites recommended for highly mobile species (nesting black bream).  

This is fantastic news for the marine environment!  We want to ensure that more species and habitats are protected and represented throughout the English network of MCZs.  Up until now there have been gaps in this network for particular sediment types.  The six Dorset recommended sites contribute to filling these gaps and include species and habitats that deserve increased protection from the potential of damaging activities. Read more about the specific sites below.

Benefits of MCZs

Protected sites not only recover or maintain the features for which they are designated but also benefit us!  If managed correctly, these sites can be the source of some wonderful and enriching experiences; diving, snorkelling and other recreational sports.  Research has shown these activities to have positive benefits on health and wellbeing.  In addition, the revenue from these activities and tourism helps to enhance the local economy.  However, the benefits are not only recreational; Defra state that MCZs are expected to bring significant benefits to marine biodiversity and productivity, environmental resilience, research and education and climate regulation.

The site information below has been taken from the Defra website:

Albert Field

Location: 20 km south of Poole Harbour (offshore)
Size: 192km2
Depth: 30-50m
Designation will protect: subtidal coarse and mixed sediments.
Associated species: corals, sponges, anemones, urchins, starfish, sea firs, sea mats and tube worms.

Purbeck Coast 

Location: Ringstead to Swanage Bay (inshore)
Size: 282km2
Depth: 60m (east of St. Albans Ledge)
Designation will protect: Black seabream (nesting), stalked jellyfish, peacock's tail, maerl beds, high energy and moderate energy intertidal rock, intertidal and subtidal coarse sediment, subtidal mixed sediment.
Associated species: sponges, bryozoans, hydroids, barnacles, algae, anemones, sea cucumbers, tube worms, fish.  This may also be a foraging area for oystercatchers.

Southbourne Rough

Location: Poole Bay - just east of Poole Rocks MCZ (inshore).
Size: 5km2
Depth: 11-14m
Designation will protect: Black seabream (nesting)

South of Portland

Location: south west of Portland Bill (inshore)
Size: 17km2
Depth: 108m
Designation will protect: Portland Deep geological feature, subtidal sand, high energy and moderate energy circalittoral rock, subtidal coarse and mixed sediments.
Associated species: corals, anemones, bryozoans, blue mussels, urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, crustaceans.

Studland Bay 

Location: Shell Bay to Old Harry (inshore)
Size: 4km2
Depth: up to 5m
Designation will protect : Spiny seahorse, seagrass beds, intertidal and subtidal coarse sediment.
Associated species: short-snouted seahorse, pipefish, juvenile commercial fish species (bass, bream, flatfish), algae, crustaceans, urchins and starfish.
(Read our vision for Studland Bay here).

West of Wight Barfleur

Location: English Channel (offshore)
Size: 138km2
Depth: tbc
Designation will protect: Subtidal coarse and mixed sediments.
Associated species: anemones, starfish, worms, bivalves.

Each and every stakeholder was invited to comment on the consultation.  For more information click here for the Defra website. 

Read more about Marine Protected Areas in Dorset here.

Dahlia anemone, dead mans fingers & brittlestars © Paul Naylor Dahlia anemone, associated with Albert Field © Paul NaylorStalked jellyfish feature of the Purbeck CoastStalked jellyfish (Haliclystus sp.) - feature of the Purbeck Coast © Chris RobertsBlack bream nest Purbeck by Peter TinsleyBlack bream nest - feature of Southbourne Rough © Peter TinsleyBlue mussel bed found within South of Portland © Paul NaylorBlue mussel bed - associated with South of Portland © Paul NaylorSpiny seahorse a feature of Studland Bay © Julie HatcherSpiny seahorse - feature of Studland Bay © Julie HatcherCommon starfish associated with West of Wight Barfleur by Paul NaylorCommon starfish associated with the West of WIght Barfleur © Paul Naylor


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