Studland Bay MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

Studland Bay is a shallow, sheltered bay within a few miles of Poole Harbour, and consequently is very popular with day-tripper sailors looking for a leisurely day on the water in a beautiful place. Studland is also home to a lush seagrass meadow, providing excellent habitats for of both species of seahorse found in the UK, as well as pipefishes, wrasse, spider crabs, cuttlefish, and juvenile bass, bream and flatfish. Studland is the only known breeding habitat for the spiny seahorse, and provides important nurdery habitat for the endangered undulate ray. Native oysters, the Chinese-hat shell, hermit crabs and the masked crab are also found here.

Studland was suggested for designation as an MCZ in the second round of MCZ consultations, but met much opposition from local sailors concerned they would lose a historical safe anchorage and much-loved leisure spot. Excessive and insensitive mooring and anchoring in the seagrass can exact significant damage to the meadow. Anchors dig up the grass by the roots, and mooring chains scour the seabed in the tide. Environmentally-friendly moorings are urgently needed at Studland to ensure that this site can still be enjoyed without damaging the seagrass, the seahorses and the other amazing wildlife found there.

Designation of this marine conservation zone in 2019 should provide long-needed solutions for this local controversy

MPA Type

Marine Conservation Zone

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and have been established around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to contribute to the UK MPA network protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.

Surface Area

3.97 km2 (1.53 mi.2)


9.31 km (5.79 mi.)

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Partners at Dorset Seasearch have conducted targeted surveys here over the years since the site was recommended for designation as a marine protected area. Divers have worked to try and better understand the extent and status of the seagrass beds.

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Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

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