Two new visitor moorings are now in place in the Milford Haven Waterway of Longoar Bay in order to protect an area of seagrass.
Following concerns about the possibility of damage to beds of seagrass in Longoar Bay from anchors, a working group was attended by the Milford Harbour Users Association (HUA) and the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation Relevant Authorities Group (SACRAG).
The ‘Day Visitor’ moorings, marked by red buoys and insured by the Port of Milford Haven, have been placed in the bay for the use of vessels up to a maximum length of 40 feet and maximum weight of 10 tonnes.
They were installed on 7 August and have been ‘positioned in such a way so as to discourage other boat users from anchoring to the west of them where seagrass is present.’
Seagrass beds act as nursery areas for commercial fish species, reduce coastal erosion and absorb nutrients and chemicals from coastal run-off.
It is believed that anchoring and mooring is impacting seagrass roots and can contributing to seabed patchiness and deterioration.
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A spokesman for the Port of Milford Haven said: ‘Taking proactive measures to protect seagrass within the waterway is necessary for the long term health of the beds and is also required to improve the condition of the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area Conservation (SAC), part of a network of important marine sites across Europe.’
Longoar Bay is a small area within the voluntary agreement made last year. It also includes protection for subtidal seagrass off Angle and Gelliswick, as well as for the only known bed of maerl in Wales, a chalky red seaweed.
Harbourmaster at the Port of Milford Haven Bill Hirst said: ‘I am pleased that the first freely available visitor moorings have been agreed and placed in Longoar Bay.
‘The Port of Milford Haven was the final link in the chain to secure their placement and their future. Users of the moorings should take careful note of the maximum size boat suitable and safe to make fast to the mooring.’
The visitor moorings have been installed following collaboration with the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC and funding from the Welsh Government’s Nature Fund. Assistance has also been provided by Natural Resource Wales’ Skomer Marine Conservation Zone staff who have helped with monitoring and advice.
The approximate positions of the mooring buoys are:
51º42’.723N 005º06.809W And 51º42’.728N 005º06.804W
Further information on the voluntary sensitive habitat protection zones can be found here or by contacting the SAC officer on 01646 696108.