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Dorset Seabeds Granted Protected Status

Baby Pollack

11:42am 4th February 2014
(Updated 11:43am 4th February 2014)

Rare and highly valued sea habitats off the Dorset coast have been granted a new protected status.

The Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority announced the new bylaws were to come into force that'll stop trawlers and dredgers disturbing the seabed’s.

Lyme Bay, Studland to Portland, Chesil and The Fleet and Poole Harbour all fall under the new protected status.

Trawling is a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. Dredging is an excavation activity in shallow seas with the purpose of gathering up material from the seabed.

Dorset Wildlife Trust Marine Conservation Officer, Emma Rance said, "These byelaws represent a great step forward in conservation. Rocky reef habitats support slow growing sponges and corals.  Eelgrass meadows provide a nursery for juvenile commercial fish species and sea horses.  Both habitats are vulnerable to irreversible damage when dredged or trawled.   The byelaws will prevent any further habitat loss and in doing so, maintain the health, productivity and economic value of the marine environment for fishermen and conservationists alike."

Many of the fishing methods used to catch the 40 different commercial species in Dorset are static in nature and have a low impact on seabed habitats. 

These methods include rod and line, pots, traps and gill nets. 

(Picture thanks to Peter Tinsley).

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