Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of sea given some level of protection from damaging activities allowing marine wildlife within their boundaries to recover and thrive.  MPAs can also have an effect beyond their boundaries as burgeoning wildlife populations spill over into the surrounding seas.  Carefully designed networks of MPAs can provide even greater benefits, helping to boost the overall resilience of the wider environment.

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

A network of MPAs is made up of the following:

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs):  
These generally stop at mean low water.  The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 allows for the extension of coastal SSSIs into the sublittoral fringe or slightly beyond, where appropriate.  There are a number of SSSIs with a marine component in Dorset, though the interest features do not always include marine wildlife.  These include South Dorset Coast SSSI, Portland Harbour Shore SSSI and Poole Harbour SSSI.

European Marine Sites (EMS):            
This includes Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA) with a marine component.  These have been restricted to areas already designated as SSSIs (therefore only up to mean low water), but the additional marine SACs, specifically to protect reef and sea-cave habitats, encompasses a range of fully marine habitats. 

EMS Designated in Dorset:
(Click each one for Natural Endland's advice and site information) 

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs):        
A new type of Marine Protected Area created under the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act.  MCZs can be designated in English or Welsh waters and are intended to complement other protected areas to create a network of sites covering the full range of marine habitats and features around the country.

In 2013, twenty seven new MCZs in English waters were designated, following the recommendation from four regional stakeholder projects for of a national network of 127 sites.  31 out of the 127 were considered in this tranche and all three proposed Dorset sites were designated.

MCZs in Dorset:
(Click each one for Natural Endland's advice and site information) 

Tranche 2 
In February 2014 Defra announced a list of 37 further sites as suitable candidates for the second tranche of MCZ designation.  In Jan 2015, the government launched a consultation on 23 of these sites - none of which were in Dorset.  At the same time, additional conservation features for some exisitng sites, including the Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ and the South Dorset MCZ, were included in the consultation.  Studland Bay was not included in the Tranche 2 consultation on the grounds that it was too contentious.

Tranche 3 NEW
Government has announced a six week consultation on the 41 sites proposed for the third tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.  This is the last chance to complete the network and really make a difference.   This final tranche is about filling the gaps between MCZs - making sure that all types of seabed and the full range of species are adequately protected and that there is enough connectivity between sites for the network to function.   Visit our Dorset MCZ page!

In Dorset, six sites have been recommended.  Click on the sites below for more detailed information:

Each and evey stakeholder has the opportunity to comment on this consultation which is now open and can be seen here.   

Native oyster (Ostrea edulis) © Paul Naylor - feature of the Poole Rocks MCZ & Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ.

Native oyster (Ostrea edulis) © Paul Naylor - feature of the Poole Rocks MCZ & Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ.

Vulnerable pink sea fan coral (Eunicella verrucosa) © Paul Naylor - feature of the Studland to Portland SAC & Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ

Vunerable pink sea fan coral (Eunicella verrucosa) © Paul Naylor - feature of the Studland to Portland SAC & Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges MCZ.

Watch and discover the bountiful marine life of Poole Rocks.  Click on the image

Watch and discover the bountiful marine life of Poole Rocks.  Click on the image.

The rare Couch's goby (Gobius couchi) © Lin Baldock - feature of the Poole Rocks MCZ.

The rare Couch's goby (Gobius couchi) © Lin Baldock - feature of the Poole Rocks MCZ.

Rare sea sponge (Suberites massa) © Peter Tinsley - feature of the Poole Harbour SSSI.

Rare sea sponge (Suberites massa) © Peter Tinsley - feature of the Poole Harbour SSSI.

Become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones


If you would like to do more for our marine wildlife, you can sign up to become a MCZ Friend to champion the network of Marine Conservation Zones being created around England. You will be joining other marine life champions around the country who feel passionately about protecting the sea and helping it recover to healthy Living Seas.

 

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