THREE areas off Dorset’s coast have been included in the first wave of protected marine conservation zones.

Dorset Wildlife Trust is delighted that they are in the immediate designation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones announced by the government and hopes a further three recommended areas will follow suit.

Poole Rocks, South Dorset, Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges are the first step towards the creation of a network to ensure the healthy future of the seas, hopes the trust.

“This is great news for Dorset and a big step towards recovery of the marine environment,” said Peter Tinsley, the trust’s living seas manager.

“These are not no-go areas and will continue to see a variety of uses but will now be managed for the recovery and enhancement of marine habitats and species.

“It will also be beneficial for fixed gear local fishermen, as one of the outcomes will be restrictions on mobile fishing.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign for MCZs so far and especially those who have helped collect the evidence to support the designation,” he said.

Poole Rocks in Poole Bay is home to the native oyster and the rare Couch’s goby, while Chesil and Stennis Ledges provide a home for one of the most distinctive soft corals, the pink seafan.

South Dorset, between six and 12 miles off the coast, has an area of mixed seabed habitats lying in deeper, tide-swept water.

Two further waves of MCZs are planned for 2015-16 and 2016-17 and the trust hopes the remaining areas of Broadbench to Kimmeridge Bay, to protect a species of seaweed and a sea-snail, Studland Bay with its seagrass beds, short snouted seahorse and undulate ray, and South of Portland will be included.

DWT is seeking the support of residents to help champion the network of MCZs. For more information go to