Dart Estuary recommended Marine Conservation Zone

Status: On hold

Image Dart Estuary near Dittisham (Credit Paul Prestige)Image Dart Estuary near Dittisham (Credit Paul Prestige)

The sheltered nature of this estuary is valuable for many species which include seahorses, oysters, mussels, sponges, anemones and more.

Both short and long-snouted seahorses have been sighted here.


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The sheltered Dart Estuary is valuable for both wildlife and people. It is potentially very important for seahorse populations as it provides food and shelter. Both short and long-snouted seahorses have been seen here as far upstream as Dittisham.

Estuaries are highly productive habitats providing food and shelter for many species. Coastal saltmarshes and saline reedbeds offer shelter for many species here and meandering mudflats abound with ragworms, which estuarine birds feed upon. Young fish also take refuge in the estuary which acts as a nursery.

StatusThis recommended Marine Conservation Zone is ON HOLD at the moment as Defra has indicated that there is not enough evidence to support designation.

We need you to urge Defra to use data gathered as soon as possible to consider designation of this site in a future tranche:





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Although Defra has indicated that there is enough evidence to support designation of the site for five of the habitats and species recommended by stakeholders, additional evidence is needed for three of the habitats and species recommended. Therefore designation of the site is on hold at present.

This site is of particular interest for the intertidal mud habitat found within its boundaries. If designated, it would be the second largest protected site in the region for this habitat. The mud is particularly important as it is highly productive and provides important year-round feeding for wading and migratory birds. The salt marshes within the site are also important habitat for many birds, juvenile fish and crustaceans.

We need you to urge Defra consider designation of this site as soon as possible for those features deemed to have sufficient evidence. Defra should commit to gathering additional data to consider designation of those additional features requiring more evidence in a future tranche.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that there are both ecological and practical management benefits for extending the boundary of the Dart Estuary rMCZ towards the estuary mouth. Defra should consider extending the boundary of this site to include the estuary mouth.

Contains UKHO Law of the Sea data. Crown copyright and database right and contains Ordnance Survey Data Crown copyright and database 2012

Other nearby MCZs


Skerries Bank and surrounds


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