Studland Bay in Dorset possesses a sea grass habitat that supports a breeding population of seahorses. There are two species of seahorses found in the British Isles, the short snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus) and spiny seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus).
The Crown Estate has published a visitor mooring viability appraisal report, which was commissioned as part of the ongoing commitment to assist our understanding of the issues surrounding potential impacts on the seagrass and seahorse population, and the Seastar survey report that investigated the long-term potential impact of anchoring on the seagrass habitat at Studland Bay.
As well as providing this habitat for the local seahorse population, Studland Bay is also well used for recreational activities, including diving and leisure boating. This has led to some tension between the users of the bay and those with conservation interests who are keen to protect the seahorses and their habitat. We created a working group in 2010 to consider and address these issues.
The group is called The Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group. It includes representatives from a wide range of organisations and interest groups including:
- Marine Management Organisation
- Natural England
- The Crown Estate
- National Trust
- Dorset Wildlife Trust
- Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
- Seahorse Trust
- Southampton University
- Royal Yachting Association
- Parkestone, North Haven and Royal Motor yacht clubs
- Boat Owners' Response Group
- Studland Parish Council
- Studland Residents' Beach Association
- Studland Bay Preservation Association
- Finding Sanctuary (the regional marine conservation zone project team).
Since 2008, both species of seahorse have been listed in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), which makes it an offence to intentionally take, harm, kill or disturb these species. It is also an offence to intentionally damage or destroy the habitat that they use for shelter or protection, in this case the seagrass.
- Correspondence and supporting documents
- Frequently asked questions (PDF 39 KB)
- First working group
- 24 November 2010 Minutes of Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group (PDF 91 KB)
- 24 November 2010 Marine Conservation and Enforcement Team (PDF 1.1 MB) presentation by Marine Management Organisation to the working group
- 24 November 2010 The Crown Estate's position (PDF 32 KB)
- Second working group
- 14 April 2011 Minutes of Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group (PDF 81 KB)
- 14 April 2011 The Precautionary Principle (PDF 47 KB) a presentation to the working group by Dr Ken Collins
- Third working group
- 17 November 2011 Minutes of Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group (PDF 69 KB)
- Fourth working group
- 26 November 2012 Minutes of Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group (PDF 83 KB)
- The Studland Bay Preservation Association’s viewpoint (PDF 26 KB) – Nicholas Warner
- Seastar survey report on The Crown Estate's website
- Update on visitors' views (PDF 23 KB) – Jon Reed
- Eelgrass and anchoring: on evidence and resilience (PDF 1.4 MB) – Dr Michael Simons
- MAIA research report and eco-moorings trial (PDF 174 KB) – Neil Wellum, MMO
- Why do boat owners dislike anchoring further north? (PDF 26 KB) – Jon Reed
Marine Conservation and Enforcement Team
Marine Management Organisation
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 376 2538/2677
Fax: 0191 376 2681
On 13 December 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation on the proposal to designate 31 sites covering a total sea area of 10,900 square kilometres in English waters.
This consultation is open until midnight on 31 March 2013. Find out more information from the Defra website.