Studland Bay, just outside Poole Harbour in Dorset, was made a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in 2019 due to its seagrass beds.
The sheltered bay with its sandy seabed is a destination for sailors and motorboaters along the south coast.
There have been several proposed protective measures put forward for the site by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which range from an increase in environmental monitoring to a ban of all watersports, sailing and boating activity in the area.
A consulation is now underway, which will inform the MMO’s final decision.
The RYA has submitted evidence, following a virtual consultation with RYA-affiliated clubs and training centres in the Dorset area.
The RYA’s recommendation is for “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, said: “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.”
Responses to the Studland Bay MCZ Government consultation closes on 15 December.
Earlier this year the Ocean Conservation Trust published five things sailors should know about seagrass.
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