27 Marine Conservation Zones to be designated in English seas

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 22 November 2013

27 Marine Conservation Zones to be designated in English seas.

27 Marine Conservation Zones to be designated in English seas 1. The Canyon’s, Cornwall 2. South-West Deeps (West) 3. East of Haig Fras, Cornwall/Devon 4. Poole Rocks, Dorset 5. South Dorset, Dorset 6. Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges, Dorset 7. Torbay, Devon 8.Skerries Bank and surrounds, Devon 9.Tamar Estuary Sites, Devon 10.Whitsand and Looe Bay, Cornwall 11.Upper Fowey and Pont Pill, Cornwall 12.The Manacles, Cornwall 13. Isle of Scilly Sites, Cornwall 14.Padstow Bay and surrounds, Cornwall 15.Lundy North, Devon 16. Fylde Offshore, Lancashire 17.Cumbria Coast, North West 18. Aln Estuary, Northumberland coast 19.Swallow Sand,Berwickshire 20.Rock Unique, Berwickshire 21.Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries, Essex 22.Medway Estuary, Kent 23.Thanet Coast, Kent 24.Folkestone Pomerania, Kent 25. Beachy Head West, Sussex 26. Kingmere, Sussex 27. Pagham Harbour, West Sussex 330km south-west of Land’s End , on the continental shelf break, with depths ranging from 200m in the east of the site to 2000m in the west. Along the edge of the continental shelf, at around 130 - 350m, there are large numbers of anemones, with hermit crabs dominating coarse grounds in shallower waters. The shape of the seabed leads to an upwelling of nutrient-rich water, so seas are highly productive, with higher than average sightings of seabirds and cetaceans. Located along the south-western boundary of the UK continental shelf limit and is intersected by the geologically important Celtic Sea ancient sandbanks. This area contains a variety of habitats which support a high diversity of plants and animals, such as anemones and hermit crabs, which in turn provide a rich foraging ground for seabirds during the summer. Situated in the Celtic Sea, off the north coast of Devon, and 67km off the Land’s End peninsula. This is an area of continental shelf; the seabed found here is made up of sand and coarse sediment, with most of the area ranging in depths between 50 - 100m. Home to the seven-armed starfish - a species that can be recognised by its long arms and fringing spines, which it uses to bury itself in the sediment or to move quickly across the seabed to catch its prey. Poole Rocks is an area of low-lying rocky outcrops in the largely sediment dominated Poole Bay. The water is more turbid than areas to the west of Poole Bay. The shallow-water, rocky seabed of Poole Rocks are cloaked in animal turf, which include sponges, bryozoans and hydroids, rather than seaweeds. A few solitary pink seafans have been recorded on nearby patches of rock. The rarely recorded Couch’s goby has been spotted here and fish, such as pouting and pollack, often shoal over the rocks. Several wrasse species use these reefs, including Ballan wrasse, which nest among the rocks. The native oyster is found here both among the rocks and on the surrounding sediment. South Dorset is the most offshore area off Dorset’s coastline. The seafloor includes areas of rocky seabed swept by tidal currents and large stretches of sandy gravel. There’s also a rare chalk reef - one of the few places where this is found in the south-west. In deeper water, the chalk environment is important for marine life, particularly when it forms reefs and sea caves, where it can support rare species of sponge. The western portion may be an important wintering ground for spiny seahorses when they move to deeper water. Covers Chesil Beach, between Portland and Abbotsbury, extending out to sea for just under 2km, with an extension seawards to cover the reefs of the Stennis Ledges. Just west of Portland, the seabed is strewn with huge boulders exhibiting some massive boring sponges. The stretch of sediment alongside Chesil Beach is home to starfish and brittlestars, queen scallops, burrowing anemones and otter shells. Torbay, Devon Skerries Bank runs along the coast from Leek Cove to Torcross, and overlaps with the Start Point Inshore Potting Agreement (IPA). The IPA is a licensed area that is permanently or seasonally closed to mobile fishing gear (trawling), so that static gear, in particular pots, can be used instead. Exposed rocky shores are dominated by barnacles and seaweeds interspersed with spiny lobsters, sponges and sea squirts. Slightly farther out, a dense kelp forest is important for red algae species. Overall it is an important breeding area for flat fish and other mobile species. The short-snouted seahorse has also been recorded at this site. The Tamar Estuary stretches from the sea at Saltash and splits into two branches - the upper Tamar and Tavy Estuaries and the upper Lynher Estuary. Both areas are home to saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats; mussel beds have been recorded on the intertidal mud in the Lynher, which provide a stable habitat for other estuarine species. Including Looe Island Marine Nature Reserve, it’s got a fantastic array of habitats. Including highly productive estuarine environments, seagrass beds, sheltered muddy environments and large subtidal sediment banks and reefs. The large scale of this MCZ is also of specific importance, as a corridor of different marine habitats will be included within one marine conservation zone. Extending all the way up to the Lostwithiel Bridge the site includes a wonderful saltmarsh habitat. The upper Fowey is particularly valuable as it is a rocky estuarine habitat which is rare in the South-West.. Estuaries are nutrient-rich habitats and provide food and shelter for many marine species. Not only is the saltmarsh important for the nationally rare wasp spider and the short-winged conehead grasshopper, the estuarine area also forms a migration route for the endangered European eel into the rivers’ network, where it matures. Habitats range from rocky reefs to vertical rock faces with large cobbles and boulders grading into sandy sediment. Its valuable rocky reef habitat is home to the pink sea fan, cup coral and jewel anemones. Commercially important species such as mackerel and bass are also found here. The diverse marine life make this area popular with divers. The Manacles has lots of harbour porpoise activity. This area is made up of 11 individual zones around the Isles of Scilly. Covering a wide range of habitats, the area varies in depth from sea level to approximately 70 metres deep. Rocky reefs provide habitat for species such as the spiny lobster whilst diverse and extensive beds of seagrass provide valuable habitat for both the short-snouted and spiny seahorse. Rare and fragile species are also found here including sunset cup corals and pink sea fans along with sponge, soft coral and anemone communities. This area contains excellent examples of rocky habitats, which support abundant marine life. Nooks and crannies provide shelter and a solid foundation for species to cling to. Trevone and Trebetherick host the most extensive rocky shores on the north Cornwall coast, home to algae grazing limpets, filter feeding mussels and barnacles. The rare Celtic sea slug has even been recorded at Trebetherick. The Bull near Trevose Head offers a different marine community altogether; a kelp forest provides shelter for many species including fish and crustaceans such as the crawfish and European spider crab. Blue mussel beds are also found here. Bottlenose dolphins have been recorded using the area and Moule Island, off the Rumps, is home to the largest nesting colony of puffins in Cornwall. Lundy, North Devon Fylde Offshore overlaps the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area, which was designated to protect birds such as the red-throated diver and common scoter. The alliance will not only protect the birds, but the MCZ designation will protect their food source. Flat fish, rays, gurnard, swimming crabs, hermit crabs and other crustaceans feed on shells’ such as cockles and mussels, making this region of great value to the fishing industry. If maintained, this MCZ could provide a healthy population of species to spill over into other parts of the coastal waters. St. Bees Head provides a unique habitat, hosting a variety of fascinating species. England’s only breeding colony of back guillemots live here. The sandy seafloor off the Cumbria Coast has rich communities of burrowing animals and provides a feeding ground to the 10,000 pairs of breeding seabirds nesting at St. Bees. Northumberland coast - The Aln has been recommended for a range of habitats including mud, sand, gravel, sheltered muddy gravel, estuarine rocky habitats, saltmarsh and saline reedbed. It is one of the few places within the North Sea supporting seagrass and has significant importance for feeding and roosting birds. This site ranges from 50-150 metres in depth, making it one of the deepest areas in the North Sea and the largest MCZ covering 4746.12km ▓. The seafloor consists of sand, coarse sediment, gravel and mud and is home to burrowing worms and bivalve molluscs. There’s also the important geological feature, the Swallow Hole - a glacial tunnel valley supporting high numbers of commercial fish species, including sprat and mackerel. The north-eastern region of Swallow Sand is an important area for summer foraging birds, including Atlantic puffins, black kittiwakes, common guillemots, northern fulmars and northern gannets. The name ├ó é¼╦£Rock Unique’ comes from it being the only example of this type of low energy rock within the North Sea: rock that is heavily dominated by animal communities. Creatures range from attached sea squirts, dead man’s fingers (a soft coral), sea urchins, tall plumose anemones and burrowing creatures such as peacock worms. Marine mammals are spotted all year round, including white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and minke and humpback whales, alongside foraging grey seals from the Farne Islands. River Blackwater is the largest tidal river in Essex with habitats including subtidal and intertidal sands, gravels, mud and mixed sediment. Rare and vulnerable native oyster are found here and it’s the only area in the South of England that is home to the tiny lagoon sea slug (Tenellia adspersa). Home to the very rare tentacled lagoon worm which lives in narrow upstream channels and provides rich nursery grounds for many fish, including skate, sea trout and an unusual sub-species of herring. Saltmarsh islands and banks and mudflats contain many molluscs, worms and crustaceans that live within the sediment and the area is also visited by seals which haul out on the estuary banks and seabirds which forage for food in the rich muddy sediment. The chalk shore features many gullies and supports lush seaweed assemblages, rich mussel beds and reefs made from the sandy tubes of industrious ross worm. An area of huge boulder strewn bowls, forming craggy ridges around the sides. Lobsters and crabs shelter under deep ledges while ballan and goldsinny wrasse swim among branching sponges, Delicate orange anemones and feather duster worms are picked out against the small white blankets of sea squirts, while hermit crabs and mini squat lobsters scurry around the boulders. Out beyond these rugged seabed depressions, there are areas of soft muddy seabed consolidated by sandy tubes constructed by both honeycomb worms and ross worms. These closely related species do not normally live together, but here they create reefs together which provide valuable habitat. Chalk platform extending 500m out to sea. The surface of the chalk is pitted with holes, mostly caused by burrowing piddocks and boring worms. Forests of kelp occupy shallow areas whilst ridges and gully sides are covered with tightly packed blue mussels mixed with native oysters. Lobsters, spider crabs and hermit crabs are often spotted searching for food. A breeding location for black bream which build their nests on hard bedrock overlain with thin sands and gravels. Includes a large area of sandstone and mudstone reef where fan worms protrude from cracks between boulders and edible crabs shelter under overhangs. Includes Worthing Lumps, the best underwater chalk cliffs in Sussex. Red algae dominate the top of the cliff with hydroids, bryozoans, tube worms and sponges covering the vertical face. Molluscs also thrive , whilst Tompot blennies and catsharks make use of the shelter as do lobsters and spider crabs. One of just three places in the UK, where the exceptionally rare Defolin’s lagoon snail lives - it’s rare so very vulnerable. Any changes to the lagoons in which it lives could result in its complete disappearance. There’s rich marine life here - the lagoon sand shrimp, found in Ferry Pool on the west side of the harbour, plus the beautiful starlet sea anemone, native oysters, adult eels and elvers.

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