IW Chart Towed Gear FINAL
This page below contains various updates received about the MCZ project which are then followed by a personal overview of local issues.
Latest update to this page:
3-5-15 Local sites section amended
31-1-15 Local sites to be considered 
7-9-13 to change web link to the Balanced Seas MCZ team site
Please see some way down this page for a personal detailed review of local issues  
A thread has been provided in the Forum under General Chat to enable questions to be posted & hopefully answered.
Please read the entire text below here before posting any questions in the thread.

Jan 2015 & amended 3-5-15

Received notification that the government had decided that the only proposed Marine Conservation Zones that would be taken forward for consultation in the current (2015) round within our area are:-

rMCZ 17: Offshore Overfalls

rMCZ 20 : Needles

rMCZ 28 : Utopia

As a angling stakeholder representative that was involved in the initial consultation process, I have been involved in further consultations about these sites.

As the 2 offshore sites do not contain seagrass beds, I think it unlikely that any significant restrictions on anchoring are likely within them & I therefore doubt that there will be any significant impact on angling at all within them. I have, however, submitted a response to the consultation highlighting that if in fact any restriction on anchoring is considered then that would have an adverse impact on angling & would need to be considered in the appropriate impact assessments for these sites & anglers would need to be included in future discussions about control measures.

I have also submitted details of captures of Undulate Rays from these areas together with a request that they be considered for protection. This is in relation to long lining activities observed a few years ago which, if restricted, could additionally benefit other ray species in the area. 

The Needles rMCZ is slightly different and it may be that some impact on angling may result.

Hopefully the compromises that we achieved in conjunction with representatives of the RYA that were included in the initial recommendations will be accepted in the final outcome. If so then there should be very little, if any, impact on angling but that all depends on the outcome of the new consultation. The RYA has engaged consultants to collate the level of anchoring activity in this pMCZ & I have put charter skippers based in Yarmouth & Lymington in touch with the consultants so that they can input into the process. The aim is to indicate the socio-economic implications of introducing any restriction on anchoring. 

The consultation process is now closed & we do not anticipate any significant developments prior to the formation of the new government. 

A public meeting with the fisheries minister R Benyon was held in Newport on Monday 25th March 2013 to discuss MCZs
A small number of local anglers met the minister privately before the meeting.
Map as shown on BBC South local news
& which formed part of a briefing given to the Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon:-
Conservation Areas round IW
14-12-2012 : Government started public consultation on Marine Conservation Zones
Consultation Ended Sunday 31st March 2013


The government started the public consultation phase of the Marine Conservation Zone exercise in December 2012.

To the total surprise of those of us that have been involved in the prior stakeholder consultations, none of the recommended Reference Areas anywhere round the UK are to be designated in their present form and none of the recommended MCZs located round the Isle of Wight coast are being considered for approval in the first round of designations due to be approved by the end of 3013.  Only 31 out of all the proposed MCZs round the coast of England are being considered for designation in 2013.There are a number of local MCZs, however, that are to be investigated further and may still be considered in future rounds of designation.

A number of participants in the original stakeholder consultation have submitted comments on these local areas with a special emphasis on still being allowed to anchor close inshore in the Solent.



The overview consultation document contains “Consultees should therefore assume that the Regional MCZ Project recommendations for Reference Areas will not be taken forward in their current form. Where recommended Reference Areas fall within MCZs, the features in the Reference Area will be included in the proposed designation with the same conservation objectives as for the feature falling outside the proposed Reference Area. Further information on how the review<into totally revised reference areas> will be carried out will be provided shortly.”


There is considerable concern that the Balanced Seas Team either did not collect or did not include cost impacts on Recreational Sea Anglers when they compiled impact assesments for each individual proposed area. This is one important aspect that will need inputting as part of the consultation exercise to ensure that decision makers are fully aware of the total socio-economic affect that any decision will have on local communities. 

The EU has decreed that all member states with sea boundaries must introduce marine conservation zones or face severe financial penalties for non-compliance.
The UK Marine Conservation Zone Project
is being led by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify and recommend Marine Conservation Zones to Government. The Marine Conservation Zone Project started being delivered through four regional MCZ projects covering the south east (Balanced Seas), the south west (Finding Sanctuary), the Irish Sea (Irish Sea Conservation Zones), and the North Sea (Net Gain). These regional MCZ projects worked with sea users and interest groups to identify MCZs and provide recommendations for sites within their regions to Government.
Balanced Seas  was a project working in partnership with Natural England, JNCC, the University of Kent, Kent County Council and all those with an interest in the marine environment to identify and recommend areas for protection in various degrees.
It has completed its part in the exercise having submitted its recommendations along with socio-economicimpact assessments and it has now been disbanded.

To view/download a general guide to MCZs, go to the AT home page www.anglingtrust.net then select the “Campaigning” side bar button then the “Marine Conservation Zones” button and then click on the download link at the bottom of the page.
For a personal overview of local Isle of Wight issues please see further down below on this current page
. Click on underlined text link to go straight to overview.

 NE advice to JNCC

 At the end of July 2012, stakeholders, who were involved with the original discussions, received notification of the publishing of Natural England's  advice to JNCC regarding the proposals submitted by the various MCZ teams including Balanced Seas.
This vast document  was found to contain a number of recommended changes to some area boundaries proposed by BS and we are currently seeking clarification of some. It also points out that in many recommended sites there is a large degree of uncertainty as to the distribution of some of the items proposed for protection. The results of much recent & ongoing survey work has yet to be incorporated into the database and may result in the need for further consultation.
UK government will be taking into account the impact assesments provided for each proposal in conjunction with the scientific submissions. 


 Received from Natural England June 26th 2012:-

Update on the Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) project

Prepared by Heidi Pardoe, Natural England, May 2012
1. Aim

To provide an update on what is currently happening with the MCZ project and upcoming key steps and timelines, along with providing links to further information.

2. Overview of the MCZ Project
The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) created a new type of Marine Protected Area (MPA), called a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. MCZs, together with other types of MPA (e.g., the existing European Marine Sites within the southern district), will deliver the Government's aim for an 'ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas'. The Marine Conservation Zone Project is led by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Four stakeholder-led regional projects1, representing sea users and interest groups, were established to identify and recommend MCZs in English inshore and offshore waters.

Natural England and JNCC provided advice on how the regional projects should select potential MCZs2,3, and an independent Science Advisory Panel4 provided feedback on draft versions of the regional projects’ recommendations. In August/September 2011, the regional projects delivered their recommendations5,6,7; consisting of 127 MCZs and 65 Reference Areas (a type of MCZ affording a high level of protection). Maps of the recommended MCZs within the Southern IFCA district are provided in Appendix 1.

The regional projects have now disbanded (however, see 2.1); Natural England and JNCC have been analysing the stakeholder recommendations and drafting their advice to Government.

2. Current activities

2.1. Preparation of an Impact Assessment
An economist from each regional project is preparing an impact assessment for each of the recommended MCZs (including Reference Areas) within the region, which estimates the economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits of the site over a 20 year period post-designation, and also indicates potential management measures for current activities. A Natural England economist is helping ensure a consistent approach between the regional projects. This regional material is being collated into one assessment of the potential impacts of the suite of MCZs on the UK economy. It also includes information on impacts on operators, some individuals and organisations, and on non-UK fisheries.

Feedback on the draft impact assessment has been provided by economists in other Government departments, from the regional projects’ stakeholder groups and from Named Consultative Stakeholders who have been directly involved in developing the site recommendations.

2.2. Development of the statutory advice package
JNCC and Natural England are currently drafting their advice to Government on the recommended MCZs, and this will be delivered in July (see Table 1).
The advice package will contain9
  An overview of the process used by the regional projects to identify possible MCZs
  Natural England’s advice on the creation of an ecologically-coherent network of MPAs
  Natural England and JNCC’s view of the recommendations made by the regional projects,  

o an assessment of the sites and their features in relation to the guidelines and criteria of the Ecological Network Guidance10
o an evaluation of the recommended conservation objectives

 An assessment of the scientific certainty of the recommendations made by the regional projects. For each of the recommended features in each recommended MCZ, this includes an assessment of confidence in the feature’s:
o presence and extent (or spatial distribution), based upon the evidence utilised by the regional projects
o condition (or ecological state)

 An assessment of the sites that Natural England and JNCC consider to be a priority for protection; these are the sites that are considered to be most at risk of not achieving favourable condition due to the pressures being exerted upon their features by the activities that currently take place within the site

2.3. Further evidence collection
In 2012, a programme of verification surveys as well as a further literature review is being undertaken to help improve the evidence-base for some of the recommended MCZs. This additional evidence will enable improved confidence in the presence, extent, and condition of some features.

3. Next steps

3.1. Submission of the MCZ advice package
The MCZ advice package will be delivered to Defra on 18th July (Table 1) and will be comprised of:
 The regional projects’ recommendations
 The regional projects’ Impact Assessment
 JNCC and Natural England’s statutory advice package

Government will also review the Science Advisory Panel’s assessment of the regional projects’ recommendations4.

3.2. Defra’s Public Consultation
Between December 2012 and February 2013 (Table 1), Relevant Authorities and the Public will have the opportunity to comment on all of the recommended MCZs and the regional projects’ Impact Assessment. For this consultation it is expected that the Minister will identify:
 Sites he is minded to designate in 2013
 Sites where further evidence is required before a decision can be made
 Sites he recommends are not progressed

3.3. Designation
The first tranche of MCZs are expected to be designated in 2013. Natural England will produce conservation advice packages for the inshore sites, under consultation with other Relevant Authorities, within 1 year of designation (Table 1).

Table 1: Key steps and dates



Review of draft statutory advice package by Defra and an Independent Expert Review Group

18th May – 11th June 2012


Submission of MCZ advice package to Defra

18th July 2012

Natural England to arrange stakeholder engagement sessions and meetings with partners to discuss the statutory advice

Late July – August 2012

Next Natural England-SIFCA meeting: 8th August 2012

Defra’s Public Consultation

December 2012 – February 2013

Government’s designation of 1st tranche of MCZs


Natural England to produce conservation advice packages for designated (inshore) MCZs

Within 1 year of designation

 MCZ Newsletter Issue 9: March 2012


Hello and welcome to the MCZ Project Newsletter - designed to keep stakeholders up-to-date with the work of the Marine Conservation Zone Project through to designation. In this update:

  • Your opinion matters – how and when it is being taken into account
  • The MCZ impact assessment: your questions answered
  • Gathering more evidence
  • The in-depth review of evidence supporting the recommended MCZs
  • The Red Tape Challenge – have your say about marine regulation

Your opinion matters

We understand that many people are concerned that the MCZs recommended by the regional MCZ projects, if designated, might prevent them doing the activities or work that they currently do. The government’s policy is to minimise negative impacts on sea users as much as possible, while still delivering the much needed protection for our marine wildlife and habitats.  If you are concerned about the possibility that MCZs might affect your activities, here are some things that might be helpful to know:

  • The MCZ designation process has been designed to take into consideration as much information as possible to provide Ministers with a comprehensive picture of the situation, on which they can base their decisions. The process is staged, with opportunities for different people and organisations to feed information and opinions into the process at different times. If you weren’t involved in developing the MCZ recommendations that were submitted by the regional MCZ projects in September 2011, there are further opportunities to share your views during the Public Consultation in December 2012.

The MCZ Project welcomes your feedback and questions. We have had lots of enquiries about the MCZ impact assessment. You can find out more from  the following frequently asked questions:

Who is responsible for the impact assessment (IA) – Is it Natural England and JNCC?  If not what is the role of Natural England and JNCC?
The IA is being developed and is owned by the regional MCZ projects with support from the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) – Natural England and JNCC - and Defra experts to ensure it satisfies Government requirements.

Is the draft material for the IA available for comment?
Over the last few months the regional MCZ projects have invited the Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSGs) and the named consultative stakeholders to comment on the draft material for the IA in three batches – new material on impacts was presented with each batch. The final date for comment on the last batch of material was 5th March 2012.

Gathering more evidence for MCZs: Offshore survey work begins

The Science Advisory Panel provided advice to the government in October 2011. They advised that the evidence base underpinning some of the recommendations made by the regional MCZ projects needed strengthening to increase confidence in the presence and extent of features in recommended MCZs and recommended an in depth review of the evidence base for each site recommendation (see below). Recognising the importance of an adequate evidence base, the government has commissioned seabed and habitat surveys of recommended MCZs, which are currently underway.

In-depth review of evidence supporting the recommended rMCZs

The Ministerial Statement on Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) published on 15th November 2011 included a commitment to carry out an in-depth review of the evidence base for all the regional MCZ projects’ site recommendations.

To address this commitment and support the work already being taken forward by Natural England and JNCC, Defra has appointed ABP Marine Environmental Research Ltd (ABPmer), supported by the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) and Marine Planning Consultants (MPC), through open competition, to undertake a review of the ecological evidence.

MCZ Designation Timetable

  1. 1.17thJuly 2012:

  2. 2.2012:Public consultation led by Defra.

  3. 3.2013:Government designates 1sttranche of MCZs.

  4. 4.Natural England and JNCC will provide more detailed conservation advice for MCZs followingThis may be used by Public Authorities to inform their decisions on management measures.

The Red Tape Challenge

The Red Tape Challenge was launched by the Prime Minister on 7 April 2011 to support the government’s goal of reducing regulatory burdens on businesses by reviewing the entire stock of over 21,000 statutory instruments and regulations. The government wants to hear your views on which regulations could be; improved or redesigned; kept or scrapped; or implemented more efficiently.

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and find it a useful update on our progress. For this project to be a true success it is vital that we maintain the continued support from as broad a range of stakeholders as possible. So please feel free to share this newsletter with others who use or have an interest in our seas.


 Information issued by Natural England 25-11-11:-


We have reached a very busy stage of the MCZ designation process. The Written Ministerial Statement made by Richard Benyon on 15th November 2011 signalled a change in timetable and intent to improve the evidence base underpinning the designation of MCZs. The regional MCZ projects have achieved their objectives of bringing sea users together and making stakeholder recommendations for MCZs.  The baton has now been passed to Natural England and JNCC who are currently working on their advice package and the Impact Assessment.  A workshop with stakeholders has been held to discuss the protocols against which our advice will be set. The Science Advisory Panel has also provided its advice to Defra on how well the regional projects’ final recommendations meet the ecological network guidelines. As the designation process evolves Defra is establishing the criteria for the Public Consultation and designation, and the timetable required to carry out the work.

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and find it a useful update on our progress. For this project to be a true success it is vital that we maintain the continued support from as broad a range of stakeholders as possible. So please feel free to share this newsletter with others who use or have an interest in our seas.
James Marsden
Marine Director, Natural England

 The Timetable and Ongoing Work
The regional MCZ projects have done an excellent job of bringing stakeholders together and making site recommendations. But it is clear from the SAP’s advice that there are a number of gaps and limitations in the scientific evidence base supporting the MCZ recommendations.
 It is important that we get this process right. It is vital that we have an adequate evidence base for every site if we are to establish successful well-managed MCZs. An adequately robust evidence base will be essential to inform Natural England and JNCC’s conservation advice, and the work of the Public Authorities when they develop and implement management measures.
 Defra will therefore be commissioning significant additional work to support MCZ designation, including an in depth review of the evidence base for all the regional projects’ site recommendations. Defra is also committing additional resources to carry out seabed and habitat monitoring.
 Protecting our marine environment is essential and the government remains fully committed to establishing MCZs to contribute to an ecologically coherent UK network. However, the need to strengthen the evidence base for the MCZ recommendations means this is going to take longer than the ambitious target first put forward. The government is likely to be able to designate some MCZs fairly quickly where the supporting evidence is adequate. However, for other sites, it anticipates that more investigation will be needed before they can be taken forward.
 Natural England and JNCC will provide the MCZ impact assessment and their formal advice in July 2012. This is six months later than previously planned and this revised timetable will enable them to address the recommendations from the Independent Review of the Evidence Process for Selecting Marine Special Areas of Conservation (published July 2011) and take account of any further evidence obtained from the work that Defra is now commissioning. Ministers will give careful consideration to all the advice received before undertaking formal public consultation on MCZs by the end of 2012. This consultation will include all sites recommended by the regional MCZ projects with clarity on how and when work on them will be taken forward. It is envisaged that the first MCZ designations will take place in 2013. 
 View the new timetable

Advice from the Science Advisory Panel
The Science Advisory Panel (SAP) has provided its advice to Defra on how well these final recommendations meet the ecological network guidelines. You can view the SAPs advice on the Defra website. The SAP’s advice indicates that there are shortfalls in the evidence base supporting the MCZ recommendations. Therefore, while the government is likely to be able to designate some of the recommended MCZs relatively quickly, it is requesting further evidence to inform decisions on other sites. Ministers will consider the SAPs advice, along with the advice package from Natural England and JNCC, before undertaking public consultation and subsequent designation.

The Advice Package and Your Opportunity to Review the Protocols
Natural England and JNCC have been requested by Defra to provide statutory advice on recommended Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) to fulfil the marine protected area policy. This involves reviewing the recommendations made by the four regional MCZ projects. This statutory advice package will contain:
Advice on the creation of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.
An overview of the regional MCZ project process used to identify recommended MCZs.
JNCC and Natural England’s view of the four regional project’s MCZ recommendations.
An assessment of the most at risk sites/priority sites for protection.
An assessment of the scientific certainty of the regional MCZ project recommendations.
A workshop was held on 22nd November 2011 with members of the Regional Stakeholder Groups. The purpose was to talk through the draft protocols that set out the standards against which we will produce our advice.
 To promote openness and transparency, we are inviting comment on these draft protocols. Read more about how to comment on the MCZ advice protocols

MCZ Impact Assessment
An impact assessment (IA) for all of the Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) recommended by the regional MCZ projects is being prepared to accompany the consultation by Defra on all of the site recommendations.  This is so that people with an interest in the marine environment can understand:
how and to what extent the proposed MCZs may impact on them; and
the estimated economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits of the proposed MCZs.
One IA is being produced for the entire suite of recommended MCZs across all four regional MCZ project areas and it will assess the impacts of the suite of MCZs on the UK economy.  It also includes information on impacts on operators, other individuals and organisations and on non-UK fisheries.   Impacts are assessed over twenty years following designation and are estimated relative to the situation if there were no MCZs. 
 The IA will be delivered to Defra mid-July 2012 along with Natural England and JNCC’s Advice Package.

Overview of Local Issues by Alan Deeming

The following rewritten 25-9-12 in the past tense as a result of the regional teams having completed their tasks and have now been disbanded plus some new comments have been added.

The national Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) exercise was split into a number of administrative regions. Ours is “Balanced Seas” (BS) which covers the area from Kent round to just West of the Island.

The hierarchy was in the form of many local interest groups (called stakeholders) feed information & comments into “Local Stakeholder Group” meetings. From these meetings, a consensus of views was passed to the one Regional Group meeting whose task it was to generate the final recommendations applicable to our entire area.    

Our Island angling representative on the Balanced Seas local stakeholder group was Tony Williams, all be it that I was invited to attend the last meeting in addition to Tony. There was at least one other angling representative from the mainland on the group plus one Island representative for charter angling skippers. There were at least three representatives of the commercial fishing at the meeting that I attended. I understand, however, that there was only one angling representative on the Regional Stakeholder Group who comes from the east of the region and who had to cover the interests of all anglers throughout the BS area. I understand that there was more than one representative of the commercial fishing fleet on this regional group.    

During 2011/12 I was involved in meetings about (MCZs) mainly here on the Island plus one in Southampton and I had a lot of discussions with Tony Williams about proposals for Island waters. We seemed to have been lumbered with a disproportionally large number of MCZs round the Island compared to the remainder of the BS area and Tony made this point to them on many occasions.

It is important to note that everything is only in a recommendation stage at present and will have to go through a public “consultation” period before going to a government body for review/acceptance. My personal view is that, although the EU is forcing the UK government to address this issue, the costs of implementing & policing any restrictions are likely to mean that only a proportion of recommendations will be accepted.

It is important to recognise that there are two distinctly different types of protection areas being considered:-

The first is Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) which can be very large areas but any protection measures introduced would specifically address any particularly damaging activities that currently affecting particular Features Of Conservation Importance (FOCI). FOCI can be anything from, for example, unusual worms, through seagrass beds to rock. There is an extensive list that the BS team had to refer to for what is to be protected but significantly for anglers they were not interested in fish stocks in general. They only had a small number of fish species on their list, of which Undulate Ray was one.

Each FOCI identified for protection within an MCZ was classified as either in need of being “Maintained” in its current state or in need of “Recovery” to improve it to a predefined benchmark condition.

Stakeholders were requested to advise the BS team if they believed their activities cause damage to specific FOCI in the areas where these exist. Not surprisingly, local commercial fishermen claimed that none of their activities cause damage. One would not expect any restrictions on current levels/type of activity in the locations of FOCI designated as maintain. There could, however be restrictions imposed in the locations of FOCI designated as recover. This could, for example, include banning any activity that disturbs the sea bed such as clam dredging and anchoring but these restrictions would not normally apply to an entire MCZ just the vicinity of the FOCI.

Local MCZs
are shown on the maps below.

All prefixes "d" for draft have become prefix "r" for recommended in the final BS report.
Going clockwise round the Island they are recommended as follows:-
rMCZ20 From the Needles out to the Dolphin Banks; back up the North edge of the shipping channel to just outside of Hurst then across to Fort Albert
rMCZ23 From fort Victoria in a straight line to Gurnard.
rMCZ19 From Norris out to the South edge of the shipping channel down to Ryde sands and back into Appley beach.
rMCZ22 From Seaview out to the South edge of the shipping channel then out towards the Nab tower then a straight line across Sandown Bay to Dunnose.
Chale Bay also has a large area recommended but as a more restricted Reference Area: see below.
There are also a couple of areas recommended well offshore SE of Bembridge.

Reference Areas = no take areas (RA)

The original text below has been superseeded by a recent decision stated in the 2012 consultation documents as "


 “Consultees should therefore assume that the Regional MCZ Project recommendations for Reference Areas will not be taken forward in their current form. Where recommended Reference Areas fall within MCZs, the features in the Reference Area will be included in the proposed designation with the same conservation objectives as for the feature falling outside the proposed Reference Area. Further information on how the review<into totally revised reference areas> will be carried out will be provided shortly.”

A far more restrictive designated zone is called a “Reference Area”(RA). These can normally be quite small areas (500m x 500m) within an overall MCZ but are subject to virtually no go and no take restrictions. See list of restricted activities below. There is, however, a proposal for a very large RA covering Chale Bay. The Science Advisory Panel (SAP) have subsequently criticised the small average size of RAs being proposed in the BS region as they would like to see them a lot larger but this would be met with considerable resistance from stakeholders. It was too late in the process for the BS team to react to this.
 We strongly challenged why angling is banned from these areas when there is a declared intent not to impose any restrictions to protect fish stocks in general but no response was forthcoming despite the BS team requesting an explanation/justification on our behalf. My personal thought is that angling has been banned to appease the commercial fishing interests. With the disbanding of the BS team, this question will now need to be pursued vigorously through the public consultation process.
 A fairly new body called Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (SIFCA)seem to be responsible for legislation on local fish stocks within the 6 mile limit but they did not seem to have any direct link with the Balanced Seas exercise. They seem to be a reincarnation of the previous fisheries organisation that was dominated by representatives from the commercial sector. I am advised that they currently have one angling representative. 

As advised by a member of the SIFCA as at 12th September 2011 :-
 Only boats under 12 m are allowed to fish within the 6 mile limit.
(Under 10m fleet organisation is not a statutory body)
SIFCA does not currently have in place legislation to control fin fish catches by the under 12m fleet within the 6 mile limit nor does it monitor/record such catches directly from skippers. It only regulates shellfish landings at present.
SIFCA is intending to introduce permits etc for the under 12m fleet within the 6 mile limit and to introduce landings monitoring in support of this.

There were proposals for a number of Reference Areas round the Island

[BUT as of Dec 2013 none anywhere round England are going ahead in their originally proposed format]

(as well as two mid channel that are probably out of range of our normal long distance operations) as follows:-

dRA13 which is about a ¾ mile sided diamond shaped area just to the NW of the ground known as Utopia SE of the Nab. Personal observations suggest that this is fished mainly by mainland boats.

rRA15 (see map below) is very controversial and was proposed originally for the entire area of Bembridge Ledge South from the lifeboat pier and originally included an area outside the low water line but this was amended to just cover the intertidal area. It was claimed that the area was needed to protect Peacock Tail seaweed which this population seeded other populations round the island and only existed locally south of the lifeboat. Tony Williams was able to obtain the original report from Dr Roger Herbert, that highlighted the existence of the weed and he found that the report clearly showed that a population also existed north of the lifeboat pier.

 Given the very high human activity on Bembridge ledge, an alternative area north of the lifeboat pier, (starting 5m south of Colonels Hard and running 500m towards the pier) was suggested in collaboration with the RYA. This was subsequently agreed by the regional stakeholder group.  Unfortunately the section dealing with this area in the current version of the final report contradicts itself in so far as it shows the boundary roughly as our suggestion but their text suggests, incorrectly, that the southern boundary is actually the lifeboat pier.   

 Sue Wells, who was the manager of the BS team, has indicated that consent has been given to incorporate corrections that we have requested (possibly prompted in a small way by a letter to the County Press highlighting the errors) and that they accept that it was their clerical error to state the boundary as being the lifeboat pier. They accept it should be stated as being in line with Swains Road and a correction has been issued.

Dr Herbert recently supplied further large scale charts showing more detailed positions of the Peacock Tail weed which removed some concerns that had been voiced regarding where they had been shown on the chart in the BS report.

At the end of October 2011, a meeting of local stakeholders who had been involved in the BS exercise was held in Bembridge to discuss this proposed RA, among other topics. Dr Roger Herbert attended and accompanied the meeting on a visit to the site at low water where he indicated the actual positions of the Peacock Tail weed. Further refinements were formulated to the proposed boundaries and these have been submitted to Natural England (with their prior agreement) as part of the ongoing process. The meeting suggested that the shore boundary should be the base of the shingle beach to allow the public right of way along the beach to remain. It is also proposing that the seaward boundary should be the base of the outer rock ledge since the Peacock Tail weed only exists within the lagoon inshore of this rock ledge.

 dRA16 is the area of the pond inland from the road bridge at Wootton and clearly does not impact anglers.

dRA17 (see map below) was being proposed as Osborne bay extending from the beach out to include the popular yacht mooring area. An alternative location further east towards Kings Quay was proposed, in conjunction with the RYA, at the last Local Stakeholder Group meeting and was forwarded to the Regional Stakeholder Group where it gained agreement. Little if any impact on angling is anticipated given that the foreshore here is still private.

A report in the IW County Press at the end of October indicated that English Heritage had agreed with Natural England that they could do work to make the private beach at Osborne Bay accessible to the public via the grounds of Osborne House. Of particular interest was a statement that they proposed to lay buoys to mark an exclusion zone round the local sea grass beds. In Sept 2012 the IWCP reported that English Heritage had laid buoys in Osborne bay and had illegally been telling yachts that they could not anchor within them and that they subsequently accepted their error.

dRA18 (see map below) is an area of fundamental concern to anglers as it covers a large area of Chale bay extending well out to sea. We gained agreement to move the shore boundary 150m out to sea to allow beach angling, and other beach based activities, but also strongly indicated that this proposed reference area it is not acceptable to boat anglers from both ends of the island. In my view, this area totally lacks creditability as the BS team claimed that it is only required to protect high and medium energy rock which only exists in this area out of the entire BS region.

Considerable correspondence has been flying about during October 2011 regarding the designation of the various rock habitats in this area. Briefly Geoff Blake (commercial fisherman in Ventnor Haven), supported by Martin Woodward (local very experienced commercial diver) claimed that there are considerable inaccuracies in the designations. At the local meeting of stakeholders in Bembridge at the end of October 2011, Dr Roger Herbert expressed his expert opinion that current survey data etc was not necessarily clear cut and was open to interpretation. It is unlikely, however, that any re-designation would have any significant impact on the initial proposal of this site for protection. The most significant factor remains the lack of support from SIFCA based on opposition from commercial fishermen and the high cost to SIFCA to put in place any effective policing of the site.


dRA19 (see map below) was proposed as the entire area of Newtown Creek. This is very controversial for a number of reasons not the least being the current successful management by the owners the National Trust. The fact that a lot of manmade features exist in the area flies in the face of English Nature’s tendency to return areas to their natural state. A proposal was made to leave control in the hands of the NT. Another suggestion was made to move the boundary well inside the entrance to permit angling to continue.

The attached revised boundary proposal from the National Trust was apparently accepted by the BS team for inclusion in their final report. The NE advice document, however, recommends that the boundary reverts to the entire creek.

 dRA20 (see map below) is proposed within Alum Bay to “protect” just one specimen of a Stalked Jellyfish that was observed in the nineties.  The conservationists would not accept that this was ridiculous so a revised boundary had to be proposed that avoided the refuge anchorage for yachts and was acceptable to both commercial fishermen and the East Wight charter angling fleet. The SAP has echoed our concerns on this. The final report submitted by the BS team declined to propose a boundary on the grounds that the continued presence and precise location of stalked jellyfish needs to be first established by a survey.
As of Sept 2012, NE have advised that no such survey is currently planned so it is unlikely that this RA will be designated in the first round.

dRA21 (see map below) is proposed as a 500m square area fairly close in on Culver Spit. This would have a low impact on anglers but it is difficult to see how this could be effectively marked or policed. Any marker buoys would not last unless of a very large size and cost plus the area is near the path of ferries navigating the passage between Princessa Shoal and Culver.


One of the major obstacles to implementing any of the proposed restrictions would be the cost of marking and policing. We also have the lack of credibility in the eyes of stakeholders which would probably result in many restrictions being flouted. One local commercial fisherman has been quoted as having said that he will continue exactly what he has been doing for years and nobody is going to stop him.

Subsequent to the generation of the BS draft report, the Science Advisory Panel has criticised a number of aspects of the proposals, in particular the small average area of the proposed reference areas (as mentioned previously). It is unclear how this situation will be eventually resolved.

The final version of the Balanced Seas teams proposals to the government contained a number of errors etc that members of the local stakeholders group got them to resolve. 

The now recommended Marine Conservation Zones & Reference Areas are each numbered but in parallel.

Of interest to us are rMCZ s 19, 20, 22, 23 & 28 plus rRAs 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 & 21

Remember: Nothing is fixed yet. These were just proposals from the Balanced Seas team and are subject to review by government bodies and subsequent public consultation.

Please do not assume that your Angling representatives on the Local Stakeholder Group were in favour of these recommendations. Our concerns were recorded in detailed meeting notes (not always 100%) that can be accessed under Local Stakeholder Group resources on the Balanced Seas web site.


 draft mczs

draft reference areas june 


changes to mczs for web 
The following originally formed part of this personal assessment
but became redundant with the announcement in Dec 2013
that NO Reference Areas anywhere round England
are to go ahead in their originally proposed format:- 
Proposed amendment to chart as supplied by Balanced Seas but which has not yet been published in the report.:- 
ra21 on chart001for web
JNCC guidance for designation of activities within Reference Areas includes:-

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