Government launches Marine Conservation Zone consultation

Studland Bay not in list of 31 sites up for designation as MCZ in 2013

The government has launched a public consultation on 31 sites it’s hoping to designate as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in 2013.

This is the final step before official designation of sites, so it’s crucial boaters have their say on areas that might be affected.

One of the most contentious sites originally touted for MCZ status, Studland Bay, is not included in the list of areas up for designation.

The consultation document says the conservation case for a Studland Bay MCZ is clear, but “there is still uncertainty as to whether the advantages are sufficient to justify the socio-economic implications”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has not ruled out making Studland an MCZ in the future, however, and is still inviting comments on it and other sites that might be designated down the line.

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The RYA has responded to the consultation, saying it was “encouraged by the approach the government has taken”.

Caroline Price, the RYA’s planning and environment advisor, said: “The RYA has been resolute in insisting that an MCZ should be no larger than required to protect the habitats and wildlife features which it is intended to protect and that the scientific basis for designating a particular feature for protection should be sound.
“We are pleased therefore to see that Ministers have recognised that they need to have a strong evidence base when looking to designate sites, from both an ecological and socio-economic perspective.”

Of the 31 areas up for designation, the RYA said it only has issue with one: the recommended Aln Estuary MCZ, which contains an important anchorage.

It’s not made clear in the consultation exactly what restrictions might be placed on boating activity in the areas selected, since management measures will only be known once a site has been designated.

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