The petition comes after it was announced Studland Bay would not be included in the latest tranche of Marine Conservation Zones


An online petition is calling on DEFRA to reverse its decision to exclude Studland Bay from the latest tranche of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ).

The petition comes after it was announced that the potential site would not be carried forward for consultation this year.

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However, a third tranche of MCZs is set to be implemented in 2016/17, so there’s still the possibility that Studland Bay could be included at a later stage.

The petition, started by Neil Garrick-Maidment, said: “The appalling decision by DEFRA to drop Studland Bay from the MCZ process is even worse when you consider the seahorses on the site are down from 40 in 2008 to 1 in 2014 and this is for a species that has the highest protection in the land.

“The loss of seagrass and seahorses is far worse economically than the claims of a small number of yacht owners, who are worried that they might have to pay a small mooring fee to moor up to an environmentally friendly mooring.”

So far, more than 1,000 people have signed the online petition but DEFRA confirmed on Tuesday that its decision regarding the second tranche of MCZs was final.

The government previously announced 37 potential candidate sites for this year’s consultation, but only 23 were carried forward.

Four popular boating sites around the Isle of Wight and Studland Bay were included in the original list, but these have now been taken off the table because of the significant impact potential mooring and anchoring restrictions would have on boaters.

The RYA commented on the issue at the start of the month, saying: “We are pleased that the government has recognised that there were significant implications for local sea users at a number of the candidate sites proposed last year.

“We will continue to support the designation process whilst striving to minimise the potential impact of MCZs on the navigational rights and safety to recreational boaters.”

A consultation period on the remaining 23 MCZs, covering 10,810 square kilometers of UK seas, will close on 24 April.

The first tranch, designated in November 2013, saw 27 sites around Britain become Marine Conservation Zones, ensuring important wildlife; plant and geological features are protected.