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East Kent coast gets conservation zones

But still ‘a long way to go’ says wildlife trust

PROTECTION: Sites put forward for MCZ status by the Government in red, remaining sites recommended for the status in blue
PROTECTION: Sites put forward for MCZ status by the Government in red, remaining sites recommended for the status in blue

WORK to protect wildlife in the seas off Kent still has “a long way to go,” despite the granting of three Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) last month. The Kent Wildlife Trust, working with other trusts across the country has fought for a decade to persuade successive Governments to create a network of protected areas. In 2007, the trust gathered more than 170,000 petition signatures in support of a Marine Bill, presented on fish scales, and passed them to the Environment Secretary.

Consultation

Following the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act in 2009 the Government held a two-and-a-half year public consultation process involving one million stakeholders. The result was a recommendation br the establishment of 127 MCZs in seas around England. Last month the first of three tranches of new MCZs saw 27 created, including three of the ten requested for Kent. Coral reefs, jellyfish and seahorses are among the marine species which will now be better protected. The protection status for the Thanet Coast, Medway Estuary and Folkestone Pomerania has been welcomed but other sites, including Swale Estuary and the Goodwin Sands remain without the status. A request for Hythe Bay was deferred until 2014. Bryony Chapman, Kent Wildlife Trust’s marine policy officer, said:

“We are very pleased to see the designation of the first 27 Marine Conservation Zones, which means some of our important and special wildlife areas can now be protected from damage. We are also encouraged to hear the Government’s commitment to designating further tranches of Marine Conservation Zones, with the aim to create the ecologically functional network we were promised. A full network is essential if we are to see recovery of our seas and its wildlife. This marks another significant milestone towards this, but we still have a long way to go. We are delighted that the Med way Estuary Thanet Coast and Folkestone Pomerania have been included in the first tranche of designations. We will, of course, be working hard to secure designation of the other seven MCZs around Kent that were recommended by the regional stakeholder group.”

A consultation on the next phase of MCZs is expected to be launched in early 2015.

Local zone

BEAUTIFUL: Cuttlefish
BEAUTIFUL: Cuttlefish

Thanet Coast Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) is an inshore site with a boundary stretching from the east of Herne Bay, around Thanet to the northern waft of Ramsgate harbour. The site protects an area of approximately 64 square kilometres. The first Shoresearch survey of the Thanet Coast since becoming a designated MCZ took place last Sunday at Dumpton Gap with a native oyster and tompot blenny among the interesting and unusual finds. This may be as a result of the recent exceptionally high tides. The chalk shore features many gullies and supports lush seaweed assemblages, rich mussel beds and reefs made from the sandy tubes of industrious ross worms. In the many rockpools, prawns, hermit crabs and small fish are regular sights, while specialities such as rare stalked jellyfish, brightly coloured sea slugs and baby cuttlefish can also be found. On the chalk below the tide, colourful sponges, anemones and sea squirts abound, along with a variety of crab and fish species.

  • For more information visit www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk

Herne Bay Times, January 2nd 2014

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