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Studland Consultation Consultation - we need to get proposals amended this Thursday

oldharry

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North from the Nab about 10 miles
Re the safety issue: I have been fighting this point almost from day one, when i realised that none of the conservation lobby had any clue about boats, and even fewer cared! They've always said safety overrides conservation. End of. Trouble is their concept of 'emergency' is based on Hollywood 'Ultimate Storm' or Grace Darling type scenarios. I have carried out a 10 year education campaign trying to get the message across that emergencies can be avoided or prevented most of the time simply by the availability of a safe place to drop the hook and get sorted/rested/ repaired or whatever.

MMO at least seem to have got the message that emergency prevention is as important as emergency resolution with SAR, HMCG and RNLI involved. Yes there ois still work to be done, in terms of defining at what point a skipper can anchor with impunity in an MCZ NAZ.

So yes, safety HAS been addressed, but needs to be hammered home by us all. My 'voice in the wilderness' has set them thinking - your voices are needed to get them making practical decisions.

The fundamental issues in Studland are the Science, and the Socio-Economic questions.

1. The science: we continue to challenge the Natural England assessment of 'recover' in their advice, because we believe it is based ona false premise, for all the reasons spelled out on the BORG website. We also challenge the assumption - for that is what it is - that anchoring has and is causing serious damage, destabilising the eelgrass, and most importantly is NOT SUSTAINABLE. We maintain that the developement of eelgrass in Studland over the last 70 years alongside intensive anchoring provides sufficient evidence in itself that anchoring is not a suffiently disturbing activity to justify banning it under MCZ legislation.

MCZ's are about the SUSTAINABILITY of human activity in the feature being conserved. Not whether the feature is in perfect condition. Conservationists want to restore things to an eden-like state. This is just pie in the sky in our modern overcrowded world.

Beautful places like Studland are a massively important and key factor to health and well being of people living on our corwded island, and are a necessary and much needed means of relaxation. Provided we are ntot actually causing eelgrass to deteriorate - and its pretty obvious to any regualr visitor that it is proliferating still - then we should not be stopped from going there. Monitoring to ensure increasing visitor numbers are not increasing wear and tear beyond a recoverable point - by all means, yes. But that needs a base line, which we do noit have yet. Why not?

But 48 years on and off visiting the Bay clearly shows me, and many others the eelgrass is not sruggling to survive. So we need these 'experts to tell us why they think it is deteriorating, when we can all see it is not.

But they say measurements of density, shoot and leaf growth in the core anchorage area show signs of detrioration:
a) what has changed since say 1990? Nobody knows because nobody measured it. These claims are based on just 2 seasons study.
b) Marlynspyke spent part of his Holiday there drifting around in his dinghy using video drop to record the state of the eelgrass in the areas they are talking about. We then measured the results according to standard eelgrass health metrics. All good. No apparent sign of dieback or thinning.
c) Richard Unwin of Swansea Uni checked the Bay out in 2016 and rated it as the 2nd best for condition in the UK.! Thats after 40+ years of heavy use as an anchorage!

So why is there suddenly a problem?

Seahorses? Fishermen working the Bay for a lifetime wil tell you there have been many years when they were not around. SHT take 2008 as a base line for their presence. That again is after 50 years of regular use as an anchorage. So what changed? I'll tell you: 1. eco-tourists in droves coming to see them (we counted nearly 400 divers in 2012) Its well known seahorses will push off if they are observed too closely. and 2: Remember the weather 2012 - 2016? appalingly bad stormy summers.... with only a few boats coming in between storms!

Marlynspyke and I have done our bit - its over to you guys now!
 
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Blue Sunray

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I think we should have a concerted letter writting campaign to show the strength of feeling: own MP, Richard Drax, George Eustice, does anyone know the best person at the MMO to write to? CEO or someone else? to the individuals identified on the zoom, especially their manager, to NE<perhaps a FOI enquiry regarding evidence? Are written letters in the post more likely to reach attention than emails? Do emails just get deleted by a PA? does anyone know how best to actually get to the people that matter. letters to the RYA and CA if members, they must be on it but any support by weight of numbers?

I am a solent yachtsman who visits Studland once or twice a year but how about all the boats in the several Poole marinas and clubs ? Sutland must be their go to local spot just as I use Priory bay and Osborn bay?

If all the above wrote we could flood intrays and in boxes.

Several have said that the MMO staff on the zoom seemed surprised by the depth of feeling.

realistically we may stand more chance of supporting a modified NAZ such a option 3 with the boundaries adjusted a little: even 100 metres will let many more boats anchor.

Perhaps an inner compulsory NAZ and outer voluntary zone with the hope folk would only use it if needed? a percentage observation of a VNAZ would reduce any impact by that percentage

lets get writing, any guidance as to who to welcome
Whoever you do write to I'd also write to the RYA in the vain hope that it will shake them out of their torpor. However, this sort of response does not inspire confidence.

"I can assure people that the RYA are fully up to speed on this and myself and HQ staff were on the webinar. The RYA exists to protect boating but recognises that we all have a responsibility to protect the environment. With that in mind I would urge everyone to look at The Green Blue website and in particular the "anchoring with care" information. Please have a good look around The Green Blue website as it has a wealth of useful, practical information for boat users. Please promote this web site to other boat users."
 

Concerto

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Sail on the Medway, Kent from Chatham Maritime Mar
Back in the 1960's Prime Minister Harold Wilson said the greatest threat to democracy was the single issue pressure group. Bringing this up to date means the single issue pressure group is a combination of NE, MMO and conservationists. They have a blinkered view of something must be done based on inaccurate science, ignoring the real life eveidence covering over 70 years amassed by BORG and the the effect it has on the general boating population. This is not about eelgrass but politically motivated individuals using "conservation" as the smoke screen. I have sailed past Studland quite a few times over the past 50 years, but never anchored there. This does not mean I do not care about how it affects others who anchor there regularly. If restrictions are brought in here, when will other favourite anchorages eleswhere in the country have restrictions applied. There was an attempt to stop anchoring in Newton Creek in the Solent that failed. On the River Medway we have the very popular Stangate Creek which is situated in an area of marshland that is protected, so the conservationists could easily try to make the whole area controlled. Studland is the thin edge of the wedge and if we fail then anchoring through out the UK could be targeted in the near future. So let us have a list of people who we can all contact and then all of us should write to point out how biased the MMO and NE case is.
 

eddystone

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18 Aug 2013
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SW Leicestershire
Just a thought. If this was France and the equivalent to NGM was targeting finches and thrushes rather than seahorses how do you think the hunting community would react to a proposed ban? Polite and law abiding?😖
 

chubby

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28 Mar 2005
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hampshire, uk
Back in the 1960's Prime Minister Harold Wilson said the greatest threat to democracy was the single issue pressure group. Bringing this up to date means the single issue pressure group is a combination of NE, MMO and conservationists. They have a blinkered view of something must be done based on inaccurate science, ignoring the real life eveidence covering over 70 years amassed by BORG and the the effect it has on the general boating population. This is not about eelgrass but politically motivated individuals using "conservation" as the smoke screen. I have sailed past Studland quite a few times over the past 50 years, but never anchored there. This does not mean I do not care about how it affects others who anchor there regularly. If restrictions are brought in here, when will other favourite anchorages eleswhere in the country have restrictions applied. There was an attempt to stop anchoring in Newton Creek in the Solent that failed. On the River Medway we have the very popular Stangate Creek which is situated in an area of marshland that is protected, so the conservationists could easily try to make the whole area controlled. Studland is the thin edge of the wedge and if we fail then anchoring through out the UK could be targeted in the near future. So let us have a list of people who we can all contact and then all of us should write to point out how biased the MMO and NE case is.
The single issue pressure group puts it very well: look at neighboring Poole harbour, the harbour commisioners have a stautory duty of consider commercial, leisure, fishing and environmental use as do other commissioners such as chichester. The problem with studland is the MMO only listen to NE, a bit like a court case with only a prosecution lawyer but not defence, which is of course how some countries do it.

I have read the RYA blue green anchoring guide, yes try not to drag your anchor across half the bay , don`t anchor is obvious eel grass and motor up to the anchor rather than drag yourself and lift cleanly but all good practice anyway!
 

oldharry

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I'm not sure thats entirely fair on MMO, Chubby. Time will tell. MMO have a statutory obligation to apply the recommendations of NE, and have ponly recently had this whole mess dumped on their laps to turn in to a workable bit of conservation legislation. Its NE who, true to form, have made a total pigs ear of it. There is a risk too, that we could be seen as on of Wilson's single issue pressure groups. BORG certainly has, and at one point I found myself being thoroughly quizzed by a senior NE Marine Advisor about who and what BORG is, very clearly wantin to establish our credentials in the argument. The modern term is 'keyboard warriors'
 

chubby

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hampshire, uk
I'm not sure thats entirely fair on MMO, Chubby. Time will tell. MMO have a statutory obligation to apply the recommendations of NE, and have ponly recently had this whole mess dumped on their laps to turn in to a workable bit of conservation legislation. Its NE who, true to form, have made a total pigs ear of it. There is a risk too, that we could be seen as on of Wilson's single issue pressure groups. BORG certainly has, and at one point I found myself being thoroughly quizzed by a senior NE Marine Advisor about who and what BORG is, very clearly wantin to establish our credentials in the argument. The modern term is 'keyboard warriors'
I take your point with MMO, there is a major parallel with the pandemic lockdown: the scientists say that the way to stop transmission of the virus is to stop human contact yet the politicians need to balance that against the need to keep society going, likewise from NE viewpoint the way to maximise conservation is to keep all human activity out of Studland bay full stop. The elected politicians have to balance the competing claims of the lockdown totally brigade and the lets go on holiday via the pub lot, whether they have done that well or not is not the point but at least they are elected, accountable and receive advise from all directions , are NE held to the same account, which is why I was suggesting flooding the politicians inboxes and intrays!
 

chubby

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hampshire, uk
I take your point with MMO, there is a major parallel with the pandemic lockdown: the scientists say that the way to stop transmission of the virus is to stop human contact yet the politicians need to balance that against the need to keep society going, likewise from NE viewpoint the way to maximise conservation is to keep all human activity out of Studland bay full stop. The elected politicians have to balance the competing claims of the lockdown totally brigade and the lets go on holiday via the pub lot, whether they have done that well or not is not the point but at least they are elected, accountable and receive advise from all directions , are NE held to the same account, which is why I was suggesting flooding the politicians inboxes and intrays!
To be further fair to MMO, they did say in the zoom that they have only issued 6 byelaws in the UK to date, I would be interested to know what and where and what resistance and need for enforcement: I can see that enforcement against say unlicensed moorings could be effective: order them to be taken up! anchoring is transient, perhaps turn off your AIS transmitter and cover over your dodgers! a white yacht was seen at anchor but it has gone now!!!!
 

Tomahawk

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Where life is good
One can rely on the selfish bastared behind the no anchoring campaign to be on the telephone the moment they see a boat at anchor.
 

oldharry

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North from the Nab about 10 miles
Why is NE so insistent Studland is at risk when there is no hard data confirming it?

Marine research is a tricky, time consuming and expensive exercise, and not without some risk to the researchers. As a researcher once said its like bird spotting in a fog, particularly in UK waters. So in the absence of specific data the experts look at similar scenarios elsewhere, and draw up an assessment of what they expect to find. This called the Precautionary Principle.

This is nothing new, and we all use it most of the time. It’s the basis on which the Insurance and Health and Safety Industry operate. Put simply , it is the determination of future risk from past experience. We use it in passage planning. Weather. Wind speed and direction, alternatives if things go sour, as well as assessing our boat and crews ability and preparedness to cope if things go pear shaped. We dont actually know that anything will go wrong, but seamanship demands we prepare for it. We take precautions.

In Studland there is no existing or historic data. So NE turned to seagrass studies elsewhere and find that abrasion and damage caused by anchoring events is widely reported as a source of significant damage. The likelihood of this having occurred at Studland is very high, therefore we can safely predict the eelgrass is in need of recovery. Seagrass literature points to the need to control or prevent anchoring to achieve protection and healthy growth.

There is nothing to suggest that Studland should be an exception, therefore, as in any seagrass MCZ, anchoring must be controlled and limited, to allow it to recover. When (if) they do get to researching it properly in a few years time, they will find it in good condition. Aha! we were right . The seagrass HAS recovered!

SO where’s the loophole? Seagrass. Seagrass is generally a fragile plant, highly susceptible to damage and abrasion, slow growing and with very poor ability to recover. NE are right, anchoring in it does considerable long term damage. BUT. Here in Studland we have Eelgrass, Zostera Marina, a sub-species of seagrass. Little research has been done, but the 16 papers we found ALL without exception describe a hardy, tough, quick growing plant that recovers quickly and well from abrasion and even complete removal.

If NE was to examine eelgrass as a separate sub-species in its own right, the documented research would be clear that anchoring, as we all know, is simply not an issue. But we need a qualified Marine Biologist to pick it up and take it forward for us. At present it is classified by NE as non-admissable anecdotal evidence, because none of us is qualified to challenge their decision.

All the facts and links to the 16 papers are on the BORG website: http://boatownersresponse.org.uk/Eelgrass-recolonisation.pdf
 

Tomahawk

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I wonder if this is a human rights issue?
NE are staffed by like minded people who's main (only) interest in life is all things eco. People who study and work in natural history are by definition predisposed to think in terms of preserving all things eco as a starting point for all discussion about anything. Unless you are a like minded person, you are prevented from getting work in the field because no one in the field wants a fifth columnist pointing out the flaws in their arguments. So it is something of a closed shop where anyone not on the "inside" is denied a voice. It is a closed shop. (I have experience of this in town and country planning)

How can someone outside the closed shop be heard? If they can't be herd, can they have a fair trial?
 

chrishscorp

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Can we narrow down 'qualified marine biologist' a little, what level of qualification would be good, could it be someone that is retired or do they still need to be working in the field, not got anyone in mind but a bit more on the credentials could assist us in locating someone prepared to have a look
 

RobbieW

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On land for now
If NE was to examine eelgrass as a separate sub-species in its own right, the documented research would be clear that anchoring, as we all know, is simply not an issue. But we need a qualified Marine Biologist to pick it up and take it forward for us. At present it is classified by NE as non-admissable anecdotal evidence, because none of us is qualified to challenge their decision.
So could the RYA commission a suitably qualified person to write such a report and present it to the MMO ? Would that provide evidence that the MMO should look again at the material NE have so far provided
 

oldharry

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Chrishcorp, anyne of reasonable standing in the Marine science community. obviously the more senior the more likely to carry weight where it matters. RobbieW I am sure they could. But will they? They seem to be well on the way to selling out to conservationism.
 

RobbieW

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For better or worse I've just sent this to ceo@rya.org.uk...
I write as a (nearly) 30 year member of the RYA, ..... These days my interest is primarily cruising and, being Hamble based, the South Coast. Thus I have been following the development of Marine Conservation Zones with interest. The purpose of my email is to highlight the concern many cruising yachtsmen have with the biological evidence the MMO have been given on MCZs by Natural England (NE).

The MMO would like measures in place this summer to conserve Studland based on the biological data received from NE. NE have no hard data on eelgrass (Zostera), the species of seagrass present at Studland and most UK waters, so they have used data for seagrass (Posidonia) which has very different characteristics and is highly susceptible to damage. Eelgrass, by contrast, is much hardier and recovers quickly. Using data for Posidonia, a precautionary principle has been used in the proposals made for UK sites by NE and recommended to the MMO. If data for eelgrass were used instead it may be that proposals could be modified.

Whilst information has been presented to the MMO on the characteristics of eelgrass and its growth pattern at Studland, this evidence is considered anecdotal and cannot be taken into account. Were a suitably qualified marine biologist to report on the characteristics of eelgrass it may be possible to persuade the MMO to reconsider their advice and change the recommendations. That would preserve the delightful anchorage that Studland is for today and future generations.

My request to you is that the RYA commission that study into eelgrass (Zostera), presenting the findings to the MMO. I find that to be entirely within the remit of the RYA as the governing body for watersport in the UK.
 
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