At a meeting on the 24 February, DEFRA announced the sites which are under consideration for the second tranche (T2) of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England.
37 sites are being considered for inclusion in Tranche 2 which cover both inshore and offshore sites right around the English coast.
Studland Bay in Dorset is to be considered and so it falls on all of us to lobby hard to DEFRA on making this special area an MCZ. As I know more I will let you know how to lobby DEFRA but meanwhile please write to them, e-mail them, phone them, there details are on their website, anything to make this happen.
Studland is a very unique site for so many reasons but from our point of view it was home to a large group of Spiny seahorses. I say WAS because since 2009 to 2013 the number has dropped from 40 individuals down to 4, despite warnings that this was happening by The Seahorse Trust. which came from our survey work we have conducted there since 2008..
Simple measures could be put into place to alleviate one of the problems and that is the pressure on the seagrass bed (home to the seahorses) from anchors and moorings.
This year it is hoped that a few environmentally friendly moorings (EFM’s) are to be trialled in the bay and we hope to replace all moorings on the site with these moorings and to encourage visiting boats to use the EFM’s and not to drop their anchors. This will still allow boating activity but will take the pressure off the seagrass and hopefully will allow the seahorses to recover their numbers, if it is not too late.
The two native seahorses, Spiny and Short Snouted are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act under schedule 5, section 9 and so this should not have happened. Sadly to date Marine Management Organisation (MMO) have not put into place any measures to protect the seahorses, despite them being informed of the problems, time and time again and they are the statutory authority whose job it is to enforce the law.
I have added below a link to the RYA showing where all the proposed tranches are going to be.
The Beautiful Seahorse Dargon, which can be rented by its makers for functions and to highlight this Year of the (Sea) Horse
Sea Lifes appeal to the Chinese community about the TCM trade
One of the studenst holding a dried seahorse so everyone rea;lises what the day was about.
The students were all shouting Happy New Year in Chinese and did an amazing job of highlighting the issues, thank you to them all for their help and enthusiasm.
There is some video on You Tube which can be accessed from our conservation day