Government designates 41 new Marine Conservation Zones
Including the Devon Avon Estuary, The Dart Estuary and East of Start Point The South Hams Society welcome the news that the Government is designating a third phase of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). This historic move will help protect the seas around our shores and follows on from previous announcements of 50 MCZs (in 2013 and 2016). It is the third of three phases promised by the Government in order to fulfil the remit of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.The 91 Marine Conservation Zones will form a vital series of underwater habitats which can be nursed back to health.
The Dart Estuary is valuable for both wildlife and people. This estuary is an important habitat for the tentacled lagoon worm, which is only found at a handful of locations across the UK. Tentacled lagoon worms are particularly vulnerable to changes to their habitat therefore designation of this site would provide the worms with much needed protection. Coastal saltmarshes, saline reedbeds and intertidal mudflats provide shelter and food for many species here, including large number of wading and migratory birds which feed on ragworms buried in the sediments. Young fish also take refuge in the estuary which acts as a nursery ground and both native species of seahorses have been spotted in this estuary. This site fills an important role in the network, protecting rare estuarine rocky habitats, productive mud flats and saltmarshes, along with the charismatic species found here.