It boasts burrowing piddocks and sea squirts - spectacular undersea world off Cromer may be given special protection as a Marine Conservation Zone

Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds. Picture: ROB SPRAY. Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds. Picture: ROB SPRAY.

Thursday, March 6, 2014
10:04 AM

A spectacular north Norfolk chalk reef, teeming with marine life, may be given special government protection.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds, believed to be the largest chalk reef in Europe, has been included among 37 consultation sites for possible designation as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

The news has been welcomed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) which believes MCZs are vital to protect and restore the marine environment. But a leading Cromer fisherman said he feared designation could mean the “thin end of the wedge” with future fishing restrictions.

At the end of last year Defra - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - designated the UK’s first 27 MCZs and has now announced the second tranche, including the chalk beds.

If designated, the chalk beds would be the first MCZ off Norfolk or Suffolk.

The area, 200 metres from the coast, includes boulders, stacks and arches.

Among its marine life are blue mussel beds, more than 30 species of sea slug, harbour porpoises, seals, plus occasional sightings of sunfish and basking sharks.

It is also home to crustaceans, burrowing piddocks, sea squirts, anemones and sponges, including a new purple variety discovered in 2011.

NWT chief executive Brendan Joyce said the 27 designated MCZs were the first step towards an “ecologically coherent network.”

There was huge public support for greater protection of Britain’s seas.

He added: “They are one of the best tools to protect marine wildlife effectively and restore our seas to their full potential, following decades of neglect and decline.”

John Lee, chairman of North Norfolk Fisheries Local Action Group (Flag), said fishermen would not object to the designation as long as no “management measures” were introduced.

The area was a prime fishing ground for fishermen from Wells to Sea Palling. There was a trawling ban in place and it had been fished without damage to the reef for more than 200 years.

He added: “We’re worried that it could be the thin end of the wedge. Once it was designated, it could make it easier to introduce measures like banning crab and lobster pots.”

Consultation on the 37 sites will be held next year.

■ Do you have strong views on MCZs? Contact alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

6 comments

  • The picture was taken just a few hundred yards off Sheringham. Norfolk doesn't stop at the shore :-)

    Report this comment

    Rob Spray

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

  • The picture was taken just a few hundred yards off Sheringham. Norfolk doesn't stop at the shore :-)

    Report this comment

    Rob Spray

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

  • We'll if this goes ahead I expect the fishermen will be rubbing their hands!! Another compensation claim!! They have been paid out for the windfarms up and down our coast..!! They only need to hold the license to fish to qualify for payment..!! Seen and watched it done by a fisherman who done it as a hobby!! Had full-time employment with the county council..!! And they also have right's to shoot seals while their net's are out!!

    Report this comment

    marshall

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • That picture can't be Comer-the water's too clear.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

  • Typical reaction from Mr Lee;only concerned with short term gain, not with preserving something for the future

    Report this comment

    Mr Majika

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

  • We'll if this goes ahead I expect the fishermen will be rubbing their hands!! Another compensation claim!! They have been paid out for the windfarms up and down our coast..!! They only need to hold the license to fish to qualify for payment..!! Seen and watched it done by a fisherman who done it as a hobby!! Had full-time employment with the county council..!! And they also have right's to shoot seals while their net's are out!!

    Report this comment

    marshall

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 11°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT