The Studland Bay Marine Partnership has been awarded £186,000 from the Marine Management Organisation’s Fisheries and Seafood Scheme to support the conservation of Studland Bay’s precious marine ecosystems.
Studland Bay is home to Dorset’s most-extensive seagrass meadow and provides a unique habitat for lots of important species like the spiny seahorse and the endangered undulate ray.
The new funding, which has been secured following a successful funding bid with Dorset Council, will contribute to a larger £248,000 conservation project to support this special site, the wildlife that live there, and the water users who enjoy it.
The project, which will see an additional 57 eco-moorings installed in the bay, and the continuation of the partnership’s research and monitoring programme, will be delivered by the Studland Bay Marine Partnership.
This partnership was formed in 2021 to help make sure the Studland Bay area is protected for nature while meeting the needs of water and boat users, and is made up of local stakeholders like conservation and boating groups, academics, community groups, and local businesses.
Funds from the award will also be used to complete the formulisation of the partnership, provide more information for boat users in the Studland and Poole harbour marina areas, and continue an engagement programme, led by the Dorset Coast Forum, throughout 2024 and beyond.
David Brown, Chair of the Studland Bay Marine Partnership (SBMP), said: “This is fantastic news for residents, visitors, boaters, and the environment! Receiving this funding supports the Studland Bay Marine Partnership to continue the important work of conserving and preserving Studland Bay for future generations to enjoy.
“Hundreds of waterborne visitors to Studland Bay are already taking a pro-active approach to conservation by using the 31 eco-moorings already installed and we are delighted that we will now be able to install a further 57 in 2024.”
These activities will support the voluntary no anchor zone (VNAZ) already in place within in Studland Bay. The VNAZ was established in 2021 by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) with the support of the local community to protect the bay’s seagrass meadow.
Funds for the project were secured as part of a bid submitted by Dorset Council on behalf of the partnership.
Neil Garrick-Maidment, Founder and Executive Director of the Seahorse Trust, said: “I’m delighted the Partnership has received such a significant funding boost, allowing the vital work to install eco-moorings at Studland Bay to continue.
“This project was designed to ensure the seahorses living among the seagrass are protected as the eco-moorings create much-needed breathing space allowing the habitat to regenerate. The seahorse is such a unique species that we’re lucky to have in UK waters and we must do all we can to protect them.”
Dorset Coast Forum, a Dorset Council hosted partnership, will continue to lead on the community engagement of this marine conservation project. The forum has already been working with partnership organisations throughout 2023 to raise awareness of the Voluntary No Anchor Zone and Studland’s precious marine habitats.
Future engagement events will continue to offer boaters and the public the opportunity to view the partnership’s display eco-mooring which featured on the BBC’s Springwatch programme earlier in the year.
Photo credit: Neil Garrick-Maidment and the Studland Bay Marine Partnership