Thursday, 24 March 2011

BORG Update

UPDATE Provided by Boat Owners Support Group ( BORG )

Finding Sanctuary has now produced its 3rd Report, which recommends an MCZ in a large area of Poole Bay, including Studland. They have not recommended any restrictions on anchoring in Studland, noting that it remains a major issue. During the summer, Finding Sanctuary will be looking at ‘Management Protocols’ for all the proposed MCZs, to decide what restrictions are needed to achieve conservation objectives. The third report notes that anchoring in Studland remains a ‘major issue’ and have not recommended any restrictions on the Bay.

RYA has affirmed again their support for opposing any anchoring ban, and are working with BORG who is in contact with senior officials at both NE and MMO to find a practical solution in the event that a conservation order on the Bay includes a ban on anchoring. However, BORG and RYA continue to agree with SBPA that there is insufficient evidence to justify the huge impact that an outright ban on anchoring would have not only locally but regionally, with a reduced numbers of visitors and all the economic implications of that for both Studland and the wider Poole area.

2011 is decision time for the Bay Finding Sanctuary has to submit its recommendations by August 31st this year. This will be followed by a review period with Natural England , the JNCC, and various advisory bodies prior to the publication of a Government White Paper probably in December 2011. This will be followed by a statutory 3 month ‘Public Consultation Period’ after which all the recommendations go forward for approval and implementation. After that MCZs become law.

Finding Sanctuary have made it clear will not be recommending ANY restriction on small boat activities within an MCZ, unless that activity is specifically damaging to conservation objectives. Clearly the issue in Studland is whether anchoring is causing damage to the habitat.

However, Government cutbacks are sweeping through the whole business. Natural England (who have a staff wages bill of over £86m last year) are being substantially cut back, while the MMO admit they are undergoing a ‘streamlining’ of their operation. It is now likely there will little or no money to enforce restrictions within MCZs. So what is better? A law that can not be enforced, or no law in the first place?


  1. From SBPA.

    BORG,The Boat Owners Response Group have done a considerable amount of work on not only the issues to do with Studland Bay but all along the SW Finding Sanctuary area and The Balanced Seas project to the East. SBPA thank them for their efforts and welcome the Update on the current situation posted above.

  2. MAD FRANK said...
    Good News is always welcome and I say a very big well done to BORG for their continued work fighting our corner.
    I look forward to a peaceful 2011 season boating and sailing in the sheltered waters of Studland South Bay teaching my grandchildren to sail without any interference from divers, film crews,jet skiers and seahorse huggers.

    25 March 2011 04:54

  3. Hello , just an update on our sister site on Facebook "Save Studland Bay" where we have 182 members (not all supporters) and could do with a few more .
    There is another MMO Studland Bay Working Group Meeting coming up soon where both sides are invited to meet and find a solution to a problem that many of us know does not exist.
    I have been given a figure from a very reliable source as to the total amount this so called "Studland Bay Problem" has cost the British taxpayer so far , in real terms and its £460,000 which is quite shocking.
    Whether this should go before the Treasury Select Committee and be broadcast live on the BBC's Parlimentary Channel is up to you.

  4. I have just been informed that the BBC have been filming again on Little Beach this week ,subject Seahorses, Moorings and Anchoring Boats and Grass weed.
    Isn't this the 4th year they have covered this subject at Studland ? I get the aweful feeling this coverage is becoming some sort of personal grudge against boat and mooring owners in Studland Bay or even a continuing vendetta.
    Media Harassment is a serious offence,and if this can be proved by this constant coverage and biased broadcasting by the beeb, then they need to answer for their actions.
    No other TV channel or network has ever covered this Seahorse Story at Studland.
    Just look at the patrons of the Seahorse Trust , have they got more famous patrons than ordinary members ? I think we should be told.

  5. The Seahorses have not arrived in Studland Bay yet.
    The Seahorses Trust Divers did not find a single one last week.
    Poole Park boating lake has already got more of that horrible green blanket weed overwhelming it this spring.
    Does this mean we will have more of that green stuff in the Bay this summer ,like last year?
    Might be the Seahorses have worked that out and decided to find another suitable summer location to be undisturbed and untagged.
    Come back soon Seahorses, we promise we won't use our underwater arc lights and flash camera's anymore.

  6. Chris Packhorse13 April 2011 at 09:05

    I dived Studland Bay last week and didn't see any Seahorses either which is a pity as I had read they are going to disappear this year due to anchor activity by boats. I had read about Mooring chains causing terrible damage to the eelgrass.. This is just not true although there is a bare patch around some of the mooring chains but these areas add up to a tiny fraction of the eelgrass beds. I was only close inshore but have read there are more than 250 acres of eelgrass in the Bay. So what's the problem?

  7. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) held a meeting at RNLI Poole on 14 April. About 25 people attended covering all the agencies involved. Good to see The Poole Harbour yacht clubs represented now that the implications of MCZs, No anchor zones etc are becoming clearer to Boat owners.
    Nothing was decided and it is not clear what the aim of these meetings is however it did allow all agencies to voice their views.
    The Finding Sanctuary rep broke the news that Studland Bay is not being put forward as a Reference Area (A Reference area would have automatically placed a ban on anchoring). This news rather shocked The Seahorse Trust who were hoping for a large area of The Bay to be set aside for Seahorses only.
    The Bay may still become an MCZ with a ban on bottom trawling by fishing boats which damage the seabed.
    Perhaps common sense is beginning to prevail!

  8. That is a very good and welcome development for those of us with a grasp on reality and the true overview of the situation in Studland Bay.
    So no seahorses have arrived back in the bay so far this year , and there have been no reports of dead seahorses being washed up on the shores of Poole Harbour over the winter either.
    We never hear about the numerous other British seahorse locations or sightings ,but perhaps we will from now on and Studland Bay will be left to carry on as it always has without all the hype,spin and attention seeking.
    We live in hope!

    As stated on the SHT website yesterday, the MMO have introduced a ban on all underwater photography using FLASH on Seahorses.(even under licence)
    Apparently this is now known to cause these little creatures a great deal of stress ,which can lead to them being blinded or even die.
    I know none of our members have ever used flash photography on Seahorses and any underwater video footage by our side was not done around seahorses and shot only in natural light.
    Its an interesting development and certainly good news for the Studland Bay Seahorses .

  10. Charles Galloway11 May 2011 at 08:58

    Glad to hear Flash photography is now banned.I have always thought that The Seahorse Divers, who have been using flash, were upsetting the seahorses. Looking at the Seahorse Trust website the usual spin claims they were responsible for persuading MMO to place this ban on flash. This seems very unlikely as they were the main culprits.It seems the S. Trust are now desperate to try and regain some credibility.

  11. Hello Everyone,
    I have had an interesting morning on the beach chatting to some locals about the current situation in the bay and we were approached by an Marine Biologist who explained that the seahorses were late arriving in the bay this year. None found this morning but they should be back by the end of May all being well.
    She also pointed out that the seagrass was expanding and could even be seen in the intertidal areas taking root.
    I find it quite remarkable that on the MCS site 60% of voters are now against Studland Bay becoming a Marine Conservation Zone which is a huge turnaround from last year THANK YOU ALL !
    The Fisheries Department banning the use of Flash Photography on Seahorses is good news especially at Studland.
    The BBC is continuing its coverage of Studland Bay with the BRITAINS SECRET SEAs programme to be shown on Sunday 29th May BBC1 ,which its reported by the British Sub Aqua Club will contain a report on the Seahorses and Anchoring etc.
    SAVE STUDLAND BAY on Facebook has still 181 members and BORG is doing a good job as well.

  12. The seahorses have now returned, think the divers found a couple 10 days ago, although none had tags.I do agree the BBC seem to be sailing very close to the wind with their campaign against anchoring and mooring in the Bay. I have always said someone somewhere has got a big grudge about the summer boats visiting Studland and this is becoming more evident as time moves on.The Flash Ban makes you wonder what stress could be caused to these seahorses by being manhandled, tagged and filmed by divers. I think they should leave them in peace for a year and go off and tag some more in another location,here's a list for the South Coast.. Poole Harbour,Penzance Harbour, Jersey Harbour,Exmouth, Dartmouth,Salcombe Brighton Marina,Newhaven Harbour, Littlehampton, Selsey Bill, Portsmouth Harbour,Torbay, Torquay Marina,Bembridge and the Medina. Trouble is most of these alternative sites are in Harbour Authority Areas and I'm told would require Daily Diving Permits from said Authorities which not only costs money but have very strict protocul and restrictions.
    The Ash cloud heading our way from Iceland is full of Phosphates which might lead to some of that dreadful green candy floss weed again , hope it doesn't ,fingers crossed.

  13. A well known Naturalist hit the nail on the head last week on TV when he announced,
    " What the public have to ask themselves is do some of these wildlife charities and trusts exist to support the wildlife or does the wildlife exist to support them ?"
    That, my friends is the $50,000 question .

  14. Saw the rather offensive incorrect BBC production on Studland Bay Seagrass and have filed an official complaint.
    What a complete load of lies ? Where did that false information come from and who keeps feeding it to the BBC ?
    Have they ever heard of the Broadcasting Standards Commission or the phrase "CONTEMPT OF COURT" ?

  15. Hello Francis,
    I don't quite know what the BBC are up to at the moment with this Studland coverage or why they still keep up a biased view. Its quite a serious situation for the BEEB to find themselves in.
    They appear to carry on single sourcing their information on Studland without cross checking it with Project Seahorse , the MMO or locals.
    From the MCS site they're are 60% of voters against Studland Bay becoming a Marine Conservation Zone in any form ,you would think that factor alone would indicate there is a major problem with the information they broadcast ... but they still continue unchecked it is a national disgrace.

  16. Hi, we are anchored in Studland tonight on a sandy bit of the grass weed area.There are around 14 boats anchored or on moorings here.
    Not the 350 claimed in press and nature mags. If the forecast is right there'll be hardly any tomorrow because the wind is getting up from the north east and we might even shift ourselves and head into Poole after midnight once we have got a met office update.
    Sunday looks a wash out so are the SBPA going to be on the beach for the World Oceans Day ?
    I'd hoped to get the kids ashore for that but think we might be heading up the M3 .

  17. The SBPA were not invited to take part in the WORLD OCEAN DAY event tomorrow although some of our members may go and have a look if the weather allows.
    Thanks for the update on the boat numbers and hope you are in Poole Harbour by now as there is a Gale Warning out.

  18. I didn't know the Save Studland Bay group on facebook was visible to all ,so I've had a good giggle reading all the flack from SHT etc . I've missed so much because I thought facebook members only had access. The Seahorse Trust group is also available for all to view on facebook or should that be on farcebook ?
    I am delighted to hear there are many other seahorse breeding areas around our coasts because I think the Studland Bay ones have had enough man handling and flash exposure, time to leave them in peace.
    Despite the rather cold June weather the water at Studland is nice,clean and warmer than you'd think... I ve been in twice this week already.


    There will be an article published in this Saturdays 9/7/11 Daily Telegraph Magazine on the Studland Bay Seahorse/Seagrass Saga which should feature a balanced story and interviews with members of the SBPA , SHT etc. Which makes a change from the BBC TV coverage !

  20. The Telegraph's Studland Bay story in their Colour Sunday Supplement made pleasant reading, although the photo's of the diver's looking like they own the place and that some conservationist professional photographer refers to us as "arsehole locals" isn't going to help the situation .
    However, it was a true portrait of what the users of Studland Bay have had to contend with since 2008 when this witch hunt started.
    I have been copied various replies from the BBC Complaints Office following those one sided and ill informed programmes about Studland seahorses recently, which , I have to say, leave a lot to be desired.
    With all the current who-har about media power , I think the BBC needs to take a good look at itself and the way certain productions seem to be influenced by its presenters !
    I note one alarming reply from the BBC reference Chris Packhams truth about wildlife which states the "BBC are not Bias and Chris cleared explained at the start of the programme that this was his personal view on conservation and therefore does not reflect the view of the BBC " ... So provided you state that at the begining of your programme the BBC takes no responsibility ?? But they vetted it and approved it fit for broadcast even though its obvious it was biased and very one sided in favour of Chris Packham and his Seahorse Trust of which he is patron .... nice work if you can get it .

    I have noted that the boat Speed Limit for the Summer Months could be increased from 5 knots to 8 knots if the MCA, Purbeck District Council and Public Consultation approve.
    The Purbeck District Council are responsible for the bylaws affecting seaside pleasure craft and enforcing the current speed limit within the SPEED BOAT MARKS which are some 400 meres off the shoreline.
    The increase is apparently to bring Studland in line with the limits off Bournemouth Beaches.
    As you would expect I am against any increae and think Studland should hold onto the 5 knots limit for any number of reasons.
    We shall have to wait and see when the Public Consultation begins , but I sure it'll be a couple of years before any increase (if any) is put in place.

  22. There are reports that divers confirm sightings of 2 adult seahorses in Studland Bay this week.This is good news as we had thought they had been scared off by the increase in divers looking for them. It is also in line with an increase of boats anchoring in the bay . There are still no where near the 250 -300 a day as alleged by the conservationists . Recent daily boat numbers have been an average of 50 . Diver numbers average 7 daily with up to 15 daily on Saturdays and Sundays.This is a major increase from 2007 when the average was 2 divers per month !
    The seabed in Studland bay has changed this year and is getting shallower and this is confirmed by several boat operators/owners using their echo sounders.The reasons for this are not known and conservationists believe it is not due to mooring,anchoring or boat use.
    With a bit of luck and a fair wind someone will conduct a proper and detailed Hydrographic Survey and produce a soundings chart yearly so a good eye can be kept on this rapidly changing seabed.
    We were all shocked and alarmed by the mindless break in and arson attack on JOE'S CAFE last Sunday morning .

  23. I think 8-9-11 has been a sad day for the Users of Studland Bay as the press have announced that it has been recommmended to become a Marine Conservation Zone. Despite our objections,observations and the fact that there are only 3 seahorses this year and the seabed in the bay is under going major shallowing and silting up which is reducing the seagrass , Finding Sanctuary have recommended it. What the future brings for those of us that use and enjoy the sheltered waters of the bay , I hate to think but I know a gross injustice has occured and I hope common sense prevails in time.

  24. I have to admitt 2011 has been a difficult year for the SBPA. We have taken numerous conservationists ,conservation groups and the BBC on head to head in our battle to keep Studland Bay free from all restrictions ,the way Ralph Bankes the former landlord and owner of the Kingston Lacy Estate would have wanted it to stay when he left it to the National Trust nearly 30 years ago. He had no concerns about boats anchoring in the bay and in fact used to anchor his motor yacht off the South Beach in the summer months.
    We have had our set backs but we battle on until the end when hopefully , the authorities and wider public will grasp our side of the story and why we are so determined to make a stand.

  25. I agree with you Alex and I think commonsense will prevail. The MMO have been studying this issue,as you know,and now have the facts on which to base their decisions. The facts stand out that anchoring has been going on for centuries and the eelgrass and seahorses are still there living in harmony with all activities, except perhaps diving. The mooring chains have been there for 60 odd years and the scaring around the chain base has not devastated the surrounding eelgrass as claimed by "super" conservationists.

  26. Thanks Nick,
    I have just set up a Public Facebook Page called "SEAHORSES FOUND IN UK WATERS" where people can report sightings of seahorses using the Shipping Forecast Areas instead of a precise location.
    The reason why we want the reports to be so vague is to protect valuable fishing marks and prevent more bays like Studland being recommended as Marine Conservation Zones.
    On the advise of some Fishing Industry Experts this should encourage fishermen, anglers divers and boaters to report the sightings instead in keep[ing them to themselves for fear of the conservationists.
    Direct reports can be sent to our own email

  27. The Natural England website on Seahorses and seagrass FAQs discourages divers from swimming in areas of seagrass. " Diving/Swimming

    Diving in shallow areas requires good buoyancy control in order to avoid stirring up the seabed and causing damage which could disturb seahorses. Where possible, people should try to avoid swimming in the vicinity of seagrass beds as trampling can have an impact on the habitat and all the plants and animals that depend on it including seahorses"

    So why are the divers continuing to illegally disturb and damage the eelgrass?

  28. I've seen a copy of the Diver's At Studland 2011 report and the figure of 278 is far more than the odd one or two we were used to in the summer months before the BBC put Studland Seahorses on the map.
    I am also aware that the MCZ for Studland Bay is going to be enforced on a "Recovery" basis for the eel grass meadows.
    Recovery? and by what or how do they know when its made a full recovery? There is no point in recent history when some expert has come along and said this bay is at its natural prime! I think they are trying to exclude man altogether from the waters along the Dorset Jurassic Coast so they can gradually return the area to prehistoric times. Portland Coastguard HQ and the Portland Coastguard Helicopter are both being scrapped and before long we'll be required to reside in caves and walk round in eco friendly bear skins. This whole episode is a national disgrace and its about time these POLITICAL CONSERVATIONISTS were held to account for the time and money they have cost us all.

  29. If common sense doesn't prevail in this instance then the economic restraits will.Surely there are more important projects to spend the UKs limited coffers of public money on ? On the SAVE Studland Bay community page on Facebook I have just posted the 1936 cine film showing numerous boats anchored and moored in Studland Bay in the seagrass meadows area. Thats 75 years of pleasure boating in Studland Bay and proof there is no enviromental problems . Leave the bay alone ,as it is and it won't cost the taxpayer another penny.

  30. Well said Alex. I think the Treasury have recently said "No more money" to DEFRA who have been asking for more to implement EU Directives. This has made The Chancellor speak out about how much some of the EU Habitats Directives are costing. This has led to a new Study on how the Directives are being implemented if at all.We will see but I get the feeling all this MCZ business is folding fast. The EU "Natura 2000" SAC Directives are already costinf us more than we can afford.

  31. Hello,
    I am doing a multimedia project on marine conservation zones as part of a unit at Bournemouth University. I have tried reaching you by mail and phone - would one of you be interested in having a say on the matter for my project? My site is Please contact me on post@marineconservationzones DOT com, or @MarineConservZ on twitter if you are interested. Thank you.

  32. Good Morning Kjetil,
    Thank you for your interest in Studland Bay and our battle to keep the bay free from restrictions.As you must appreciate we have had many jokers trying to get our members on camera for "video projects' over the last 4 years and therefore reserve the right to let allow certain media organisations exclusive interviews with the SBPA.

  33. Hello there, I think that is sensible advice for anyone wishing to make video productions on this subject. I am a media lawyer and work for a major news channel and can honestly state that some of the coverage I have seen to date of the Studland Bay Conflict is wide open to litigation. Unfortunately this includes both amateur and professional productions.I cringe at some of the comments that have been made in pieces to camera so far, so please consider carefully all options and sides of the story before conducting interviews and video production. Get legal advice or at least an experienced editors opinion before public release. I continue to keep up a keen interest in everything to do with Studland Bay and hope that one day the area can return to the peaceful unrestricted paradise it once was before this conflict started.

  34. Thanks Joanna,
    The SBPA have managed to avoid these video projects and only deal with two TV Channels and one Radio Broadcaster.
    The minutes of the last MMO Working Group on Studland Bay should be published shortly which will provide an up to date situation report if you are interested.
    We will post links to it via our Facebook Groups SAVE STUDLAND BAY and SAVE Studland Bay community group as soon as it comes on line.

  35. If the Marine Conservation areas come into force next year 2013 , then there's a possibility that Summer 2012 could be our last time to enjoy Studland in a boat without having to comply with no entry zones and no anchoring.
    I do hope everyone with a boat makes the most of the bay this summer and we record the last of our culture and enjoyment on video and in photos so a book can be published if Studland Bay becomes a no boat zone.
    Then this can help future generations understand what wonderful days of pleasure they would still have enjoyed had it not been the objections from a handfull of selfcentred conservationists ,who should also be identified in the publication.

  36. Historical photographic evidence from 1936 has shown that Studland Bay has been a well used and popular boat anchorage for the last 75 years and as the sea grass meadow is still intact and spreading despite the 75 years of anchors and moorings why should this change. Two retired local fishermen now in their 70s and 80s have been shown the latest google earth 2010 images of the seagrass areas within Studland Bay and confirm that it has spread from what used to be quite a patchy area in the 1950s and 60s.

  37. Hello and what wonderful weather for getting your boats ready to get out on the water this season !
    And yes we know the rains going to come sometime ,probably in June and July but while the sun shines lets make the most of it.
    Our friends ,the "marine conservation experts" have had a steep learning curve when it comes to convincing us all that there is a mega big eco-problem at Studland Bay with the boats dropping anchor on the sea grass and the long established chain moorings . They never thought they'd get so much opposition from the public or get so many questioning their declarations of doom.
    We've all been told these " Conservationists" are powerful people ,well times are a changing folks , if you choose to trip the lights fantastic on the TV then you can expect people to question your expertise, experience and credibility ! We are all conservationists ,but only a few have chosen to make it a career and try and pretend they are all powerful and must be obeyed .Fortunately , I think Studland Bay will turn out to be their Waterloo and it serves them right ,they should have done a bit more history revision !

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