TWO key marine habitats off the Jurassic Coast could benefit from better protection as the UK leaves the EU.

Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has launched a call for evidence on proposals for managing five of England’s Marine Protected Areas, including the South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) and Studland Bay MCZ.

People can fill out the online survey to offer proposals on how to better safeguard the marine habitats. The Government plans to put any new measures in place after the UK leaves the transition period.

Initially, the MMO is seeking views and additional evidence on its draft assessments for four offshore Marine Protected Areas: the South Dorset MCZ, The Canyons MCZ in Cornwall, Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation in the North Sea, and Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge off the Lincolnshire coast.

The draft assessments cover the protected features of each site, as well as proposed management options for certain activities within these areas.

In addition to the four offshore sites, MMO is also seeking views on possible management options within the inshore Studland Bay MCZ, home to seahorses and seagrass beds.

Tom McCormack, Chief Executive Officer of MMO, said: “Our purpose is to protect and enhance our precious marine environment and support UK economic growth.

“We enable sustainable marine activities, such as fisheries or renewable energy, to co-exist with other users of the seas, while still protecting our precious marine environment for the benefit of future generations.

“This call for evidence to support new management proposals for these five areas signals our commitment to better protect and manage our seas and coasts.

“We are looking forward to engaging with our stakeholders, so that together we can create ‘win-win’ outcomes for the benefit of the environment, people and the economy, now and for the future.”

The Government plans to use the powers in the Fisheries Bill to put any new measures in place after the UK leaves the transition period.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said: “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our waters - but we know there is more to do to allow our seas to fully recover.

“Leaving the EU means we can introduce stronger measures and the Fisheries Bill proposes new powers to better manage and control our Marine Protected Areas.

“This call for evidence represents the next step in that journey, ensuring our marine life can recover and thrive.”

MMO’s draft assessments and marine management options are available at until December 15. The evidence put forward at this stage will help shape and inform MMO’s assessments and options ahead of any formal consultation on management of the sites in early 2021.