The ACA Forum

Conserving the Devonshire Avon from source to sea

Marine Conservation Zone moorings

by | Mar 8, 2022 | Main | 0 comments

A recent application by the Bantham Estate to the Marine Management Organisation to lay and maintain moorings in the Avon Estuary has drawn unusual critical attention to a process that has gone on without comment for generations with no obvious damage to the environment. I feel duty bound to express an opinion on behalf of the ACA.

The fresh interest has arisen because Natural England designated the estuary as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in May 2019 (a designation strongly supported by the ACA), stipulating that the following estuarine characteristics should be ‘maintained in favourable condition’:- coastal salt marshes and estuarine reed beds, intertidal mud, intertidal sand and muddy sand, moderate energy intertidal rocks and the Tentacled Lagoon Worm (whose habitat includes several muddy areas not involved in mooring).

The Duchy of Cornwall licenses several areas in the estuary for moorings. This application involves only the license held by the Bantham Estate and covers the area loosely referred to as Bantham Harbour.   The main environmental features of relevance there are the intertidal sand and muddy sand. Whilst any man-made disturbance of the natural state of the estuary bed should be minimised, I believe that the twice-daily tidal flow will routinely create far more physical change than will the occasional disturbance caused by maintenance of the moorings.   Indeed, the unstable nature of the sandy estuary bed is what makes it such a challenging, environment for any organism – as demonstrated, some 15 years ago, by the ACA’s Siltation Research Project ( ).

To gain a sense of perspective, bait-digging probably causes more habitat disturbance than do moorings.


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