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Benfleet and Southend Marshes SPA

Qualifying features

Table 1. Qualifying features of Benfleet and Southend Marshes SPA

Table 2. Supporting habitats of Benfleet and Southend Marshes SPA

Site overview
Benfleet and Southend Marshes SPA is located on the north shore of the outer Thames Estuary, and covers an area of 22.51 km2.

The site comprises extensive areas of saltmarshes, cockle shell banks, mud-flats, and grassland. These productive habitats in turn provide a wide range of feeding and roosting opportunities for internationally important numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders. Over winter, the area regularly supports 34,789 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Knot, Grey Plover and Dark-bellied Brent Goose (JNCC, 2015).

Conservation objectives
Ensure that the integrity of the site is maintained or restored as appropriate, and ensure that the site contributes to achieving the aims of the Wild Birds Directive, by maintaining or restoring; 

- The extent and distribution of the habitats of the qualifying features

- The structure and function of the habitats of the qualifying features

- The supporting processes on which the habitats of the qualifying features rely 

- The population of each of the qualifying features, and, 

- The distribution of the qualifying features within the site.

Site uses
Some commercial trawling and netting occurs within the site. Harvesting of bait and shellfish occurs from the shore. There is a commercial port and a small harbour at Leigh-on-Sea.

KEIFCA's role
KEIFCA is responsible for assessing the effects of commercial fishing within this site and must implement appropriate conservation measures to avoid damage to EMS by fisheries activities. 

In addition to assessing the site and creating management plans, KEIFCA is also responsible for the enforcement of fisheries bylaws and regulations within this site.