RYA recommends voluntary approach to Studland Bay management
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has responded to a call for evidence this week from the UK Government over management plans for Studland Bay in Dorset.
The site was given the status of Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in 2019 due to its seagrass beds – a protected marine habitat – and resident Long-snouted Seahorses. Due to its location and sheltered conditions, Studland Bay is a popular anchorage for recreational boaters and many of the businesses in the area rely on its welcoming reputation for income.
There have been several proposed protective measures put forward for the site by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which cover anchoring, mooring and general use of the zoned areas. The measures range from an increase in environmental monitoring to a complete ban of all watersports, sailing and boating activity in the area. The MMO will use the information received during the consultation to finalise their assessment on the formal marine non-licensable activity management proposals for the site.
Following a virtual consultation with local RYA affiliated clubs and recognised training centres in the Dorset area, the RYA submitted its recommendations for the introduction of voluntary protective measures. These would include a joint management and engagement approach that would give autonomy to boat owners and enable them to understand and promote protection amongst their peer group.
RYA Planning Officer, Richard Hill, comments: “Although the RYA recognises the need to put in place measures to better protect sensitive marine habitats, those management activities must be proportionate. Any new measures must acknowledge the current socio-economic activities in the local area that place a high value on recreational boating in Studland Bay.
“On behalf of our members, we have recommended that any protective measures that are introduced should be voluntary and should sit alongside a clear programme of user engagement and promotion. Sensitive areas must also be clearly outlined for users on both navigational maps and in the water. The RYA would be happy to engage further with the MMO and contribute to a suitable management plan that addresses their conservation concerns at Studland Bay.”