MMO allows aggregate dredging in Kingmere MCZ, and Marinet questions the decision

In a letter dated 14th November 2016, the MMO has written to inform Marinet of its decision to approve the dredging for aggregate — sand and gravel — from the seabed in the Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone (MCZMCZ Marine Conservation Zone), off the West Sussex coast.

The Kingmere MCZ hosts the spawning and nursery areas of Black Bream, and these sites are protected by MCZ status. The dredging of the seabed in the MCZ covers an area of sand and gravel which supports Black Bream and a number of other species of fish, notably plaice, sole, thornback and undulate rays, and brown crab.

The MMO has supported the view of the aggregate companies, Cemex UK and Tarmac Marine, that aggregate dredging will not harm the protected features of the MCZ or its other features over the long-term.

Marinet has registered its dissent with this decision, and a subsequent formal Decision Letter issued by the MMO on 18th November, via a letter to the MMO also dated 18th November which records what Marinet considers to be serious inadequacies in the MMO’s assessment of the aggregate dredging proposal. In a reply dated 21st November the MMO has informed Marinet that it will reply in due course.

Marinet is profoundly concerned by the prospect that this decision confirms an attitude in government that MCZsMCZ Marine Conservation Zone are open to commercial exploitation, and that the conservation designation is essentially meaningless.

Stephen Eades, a Director of Marinet, has informed the MMO that “the onus must be, in the consideration of this marine licence application, upon the primacy of the conservation designation and not on the ability of the application to secure consent. To proceed otherwise would be to undermine the statutory basis and purpose of the conservation designation.”

 


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