Six marine sites around Dorset could get a special protected status by 2019–but only if the public gets behind them now.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says the third and final round of proposed Marine Conservation Zone designations, currently the subject of a public consultation, could result in 40% of English seas being protected. However, the charity says the process is a race against time with just a few weeks remaining for the public to voice their support for these sites.

The public consultation is only open until July 20 and MCS wants as many people as possible to support the proposals.

The importance of protecting our seas has been made clear in recent high-profile TV shows and news stories which have highlighted the poor state of health of our oceans. But while we can all reduce our reliance on plastic and feel like we’re doing something to help, it’s much harder to see how we can have any influence on damage being done to the seabed in locations we may never visit.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Principal Specialist, Marine Protected Areas, says the public consultation gives everyone in England the opportunity to make a difference, and there’s clear evidence that people feel better when they’re helping bring about a healthy, thriving sea.

“The public has less than a month to take part in a consultation that could mean more protection for English waters. While marine protection isn’t as simple to understand as the damage plastic is doing to our oceans, it’s equally as important. These sites are home to some of our most familiar and also threatened marine wildlife - from oysters to dolphins - and need your support”.

“We are intrinsically linked to the oceans whether we live in Birmingham or Bodmin. If we throw away this last chance to protect more of the seas around England, we will be missing a momentous opportunity to at last help our seas recover from decades of damage.”

“The public have been brilliant in turning the tide on plastic with millions giving up their addiction to single use items. Now we need them to get behind this final push to protect English seas.”

Sue Ranger, MCS Conservation Engagement and Education Manager said: “Our economy depends on the sea....most of the goods we buy and use every day were transported here on it. But research shows that visiting the coast brings calm into the chaotic lives that so many of us lead.

“The wildlife and habitats in these Marine Conservation Zones connect us to the ocean by playing an unseen role in our lives. If we look after it properly now, seagrass will go on stabilising the seabed and storing carbon; oyster beds will go on filtering the water and improving its quality; estuaries will continue to provide nursery grounds for fish. As people, many of us just need to know that wild places and wild things exist in order to feel that all is well with our own world.”

Support the bid at

The six sites in Dorset are: 

Albert Fields 
About 20km south of Poole, it includes a mosaic of varied seabed habitat types including muds, sands, gravels, cobbles and boulders.
Purbeck Coast  
The seabed here is rocky reef, gravel, cobbles and sand and is home to a number of rare marine wildlife and plants, including stalked jellyfish, maerl and peacock’s tail seaweed.
South of Portland  
 There’s a high diversity of invertebrates such as anemones, sponges, sea squirts and pink sea fans, clinging on in this dynamic habitat.   

Southbourne Rough 
About 3kms south of Bournemouth is this patchy, rocky reef seabed – a seasonal spawning habitat for black seabream. 
Studland Bay 
The only known breeding habitat for the spiny seahorse. 
West of Wight-Barfleur   
A mix of habitats including sand, gravel, shingle and cobbles. 
MCS is urging the public to show Michael Gove how much they care about our seas by sending a response to the Government asking them to make all 41 proposed MCZ sites into real Marine Conservation Zones, including the six in Dorset, at