A body of water famous for dolphin sightings is being considered for special protection status due to its diverse wildlife.
Dolphin Head, just off the Sussex coast of Selsey Bill, has been shortlisted as a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA), meaning it will receive special assistance in restoring ecosystems.
The 500 square kilometer area is particularly well known for a number of dolphin and porpoise sightings but has also been degraded by fishing in recent years.
Thea Taylor, Head of the Sussex Dolphin Project said: “Dolphin Head HPMA has the potential to become an extremely diverse area.
“Its primary conservation focus will be the seabed, specifically the structural complexity created by the Ross Worm reef habitats in the region.
“This particular area of the English Channel is also particularly diverse compared to the surrounding seabed and this increased biodiversity will be incredibly beneficial to the dolphins feeding in this area.”
“The ocean is a three-dimensional habitat and any conservation effort should recognize that the water column above is just as important to protect as the bottom below.”
Dolphin Head is one of five other sites across the UK being considered for conservation status and is the only one in the Sussex area.
Concerns about the area stem from the damage caused by commercial fishing, with trawlers across the UK and Europe using the area particularly for mackerel.
A report on the application for conservation status stated that Dolphin Head was “in a relatively degraded state following the impact of human activities”.
The report adds that many fish species in the region have declined in recent years, with overfishing being a major cause.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the aim of the project is to “achieve full natural restoration of the structure and functions, characteristics, qualities and composition of the characteristic biological communities present in HPMAs and further deterioration and to prevent damage to marine ecosystems subject to natural change”.
Public consultations are ongoing and residents have until Wednesday 28 September to express their views on the matter.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20757804.sussex-marine-site-full-dolphins-backed-protection/?ref=rss Sussex Marine Site full of dolphins supported for protection