Whole of Studland Bay in MCZ ‘building block’

Swanage and Bournemouth bays also in possible Marine Conservation Zone site

A large area of sea incorporating Swanage Bay, Studland Bay, Bournemouth Bay and even part of Poole Harbour is being considered for Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) status by Finding Sanctuary, one of four country-wide bodies set up to recommend areas for the new environmental designation.

The area, known as iAII, seen above, is not a formal recommendation, but has been put forward for MCZ status by Finding Sanctuary’s Inshore Working Group, and will remain in discussion until formal recommendations for future MCZ sites are put to ministers in June next year.

The sheer size of the area under discussion is likely to cause some alarm to boaters. Studland Bay, particularly, is a popular anchorage, and has become the focus of a sometimes bitter debate about whether boat anchors damage seahorse habitats. If the area was to become an MCZ, it’s possible that anchoring could be banned.

Motor Boat & Yachting | Studland Bay

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But Joana Smith from Finding Sanctuary said: “It is important to point out that the recommended protection levels for this building block have not yet been developed. Once they are developed, we would have a better idea of which activities might need to be restricted within the area.

“Of course, the protection levels suggested would have to offer adequate protection to the species or habitat that the MCZ is suggested for.”

You can download the results of the last Inshore Working Group meeting, and see other areas up for discussion as MCZ sites on Finding Sanctuary’s website. It’s not too late to have your say on the future sites of MCZs in the South West – find out how here.

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