England’s seas are facing a serious threat, warns Dorset Wildlife Trust. The long-awaited network of marine protected areas, promised by Government for 2012, is in danger, according to Dorset’s largest voluntary conservation organisation, which has been instrumental in years of marine campaigning and research. Conservationists are concerned that Government agencies will designate only a fraction of the proposed sites, leaving vulnerable and precious areas unprotected and failing to deliver an effective network.
After years of campaigning and with huge public support, the Marine and Coastal Access Act of 2009 promised a coherent network of protection around the coasts by 2012. Now 127 marine sites around England’s coast, including eight in Dorset, have been recommended to become marine conservation zones next year, following lengthy evidence gathering and consultation with various groups including fishermen, conservationists and businesses.
Simon Cripps, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “A huge amount of work has been done to get a broad agreement on this network of sites needed for the health and future productivity of our marine environment. Now, however, in the final stages the government has lost its direction and is proposing to over-ride the proposals and cut the 127 sites down to an unrealistic 30 in contradiction with the aims of the new Marine Act.”
Once in a liftetime chance
The recommended sites in Dorset are: Poole Rocks, for native oysters and the rare fish Couch’s goby; Studland Bay, for short-snouted seahorses and undulate rays; South Dorset, an important chalk reef over 6 miles from shore; Broad Bench to Kimmeridge Bay for peacock’s tail seaweed and lagoon sea snail; South of Portland, including the special Portland Deep canyon; Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges for oysters and pink sea fan corals; South East of Portland Bill a tiny area for blue mussels; The Fleet for its lagoon habitat and wildlife.
Dr Cripps added: “With Wildlife Trusts around the country, we are lobbying hard for the successful completion of a process that will make the difference between the life or death of our seas. Please show the Government your support by signing our Petition Fish online and writing to your MP asking for government to support a healthy Dorset sea by creating the proposed network of 127 sites in England. This is a once in a lifetime chance. We can’t afford to let it slip away. We need backbone not fishbones at this critical time.”
For more information and to sign the Petition Fish, visit our website.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Simon Cripps or Peter Tinsley at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
For our latest news RSS feed, see /c2/rss/dwt_latest_news.xml
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 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.
The rarely recorded Baillon’s wrasse builds a nest in the Poole Bay recommended marine conservation zone. Photo by Matt Doggett.
Delicate pink sea fan corals grow on the reefs in the Chesil Beach & Stennis Ledges recommended marine conservation zone. Photo by Nick Owen.
Dorset reef habitat with shoal of bib and fanworms; photo taken at Bournemouth Rocks by Gordon Bird.