Seahorse summit sought
An olive branch has been offered by a seahorse protection group to yachtsmen and others who use a popular South Coast anchorage to prevent it becoming a Marine Conservation Zone.
Studland Bay is under scrutiny by the government and various quangos to see whether it should become a protected area. This could mean yachts are prevented from anchoring there.
Leading light in the sea horse protection campaign is Neil Garrick-Maidment, director of the Sea Horse Trust.
Today Mr Garrick-Maidment, who as a diver in Studland Bay has been buzzed by motor-boats, had beer cans thrown at him, been threatened with boothooks and had verbal abuse thrown at him, made an impassioned plea through the Yachting Monthly office.
‘It is very obvious this whole MPZ situation causes stupid amounts of tension and hostilities from all sides (including from me), and I, like so many have had enough and I am just about to pull out of this whole process and work entirely independently.
‘At the end of the day we all want the same thing a thriving environment that we can all enjoy and that nature will thrive in, so I would like to make one last radical proposal.
‘Let us not push Studland Bay to become a MPZ, let us relook at this and approach it from a management direction, with a Studland Marine Management Group (SMMG), which if it works can be rolled out onto so many sites which have conflicting parties and views, especially all the seagrass sites around the country.
‘What I am proposing is that each organisation nominate one person to sit on a management committee, whose job it will be to put together a management plan for the area, which will be agreed and abided by all.
‘The SMMG will address all the issues (including EFM’s) to generate a working balance between all. This working balance will allow for each groups needs but will also respect existing National and International laws and rights of individuals and groups. There will have to be compromises but I am sure we can overcome this if we push together.
‘I suggest the group meet 3 times a year (if the nominate cannot make it a substitute should go) with pre set dates and in the first year (2014) we put together a management plan agreed by all to be implemented on the 1st of March 2015. It will only work if we come to the meetings with an open mind (including me). We don’t have to agree with everything but just be open to suggestions, and try hard to work together.
‘I am suggesting one person from each group to reduce tension and so it does not become a mob handed meeting as has happened in the past and all groups with an interest such DWT, SBPA, BORG, RYA, NE, MMO, NT, Southampton University, SPC and ourselves (apologies if I have left anyone out, please let me know) should be a part of it.
‘This group will not owned by one particular organisation such as MMO, NT or NE but will be a collective of all and will work as the SMMG as a whole and release information as the SMMG.
‘If everyone is agreed then I propose the first meeting to be in June with an aim to get the management plan in place for the 1st of March 2015. I am happy to host it here but I appreciate geographically we are too far away, so more than happy to meet at the RNLI in Poole if MMO can organise that.
‘To reduce tension I also propose that none of us (including us) put out reports into the public arena before it has been discussed by the SMMG and that we work as a collection of organisations working as the SMMG and not individual organisations.
‘I truly hope you will all agree to this radical final approach and that finally we can work as a group and sort this problem out,’ he added.