A review of Studland Bay’s voluntary no anchor zone (VNAZ) is being conducted by Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The VNAZ was introduced in 2021 to protect the seagrass beds, and the animals it is home to, from damage from the dropping and weighing of anchors. This review will reflect on the first year of the VNAZ being in place. This will help MMO understand what has worked and what can be improved for 2023 to ensure effective management of the marine conservation zone (MCZ).



As part of this review, MMO are inviting stakeholders to share their feedback and experiences of the VNAZ via an online survey. They would like to hear your views on the VNAZ, including on your awareness, impacts of the VNAZ, and MMO’s engagement with stakeholders and customers. The feedback that MMO collect will help to review the VNAZ, alongside other evidence and data. This may include information on the number of vessels within the VNAZ and any new ecological data.

Seahorses bass and undulate rays

At Studland Bay, seagrass beds provide several vital ecological functions. Seagrass beds stabilise sediments, provide habitat for species such as commercially important fish and seahorses, and act as a sink for atmospheric carbon. The long-snouted seahorse is a protected species and a designated feature of the MCZ, providing additional protection. Also found here are bass and undulate rays, both of which are endangered.

The sheltered condition of the bay not only provides protection for the seagrass and seahorses, but also boat and water users too, providing a sheltered refuge for those travelling long distances. Tourism and recreation businesses also benefit from its attractive environment.

Currently, anchoring activity within the seagrass beds in Studland Bay MCZ is posing a threat to achieving the conservation objectives of the site. The seagrass beds and long-snouted seahorses in the bay have been determined by Natural England to be in unfavourable condition.

You can access this survey online via this link. The survey is open from 9 December 2022 to 20 January 2023. Please contact MMO if you need any assistance to complete the survey.

Further information:

Following the completion of the survey, MMO will share the outputs on their webpage. You can also find further information about the MCZ and VNAZ, including MMO’s assessment of the site, Habitat Protection Strategy, and frequently asked questions.

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