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Mid Essex Coast SPA

Qualifying features

Table 1. Qualifying features of Mid Essex Coast SPA

Table 2. Supporting habitats of Mid Essex Coast SPA

Site overview
Mid Essex Coast SPA was established in a phased approach, with six estuaries have a very strong ecological connectivity or similarities being added in 5 phases;

  •   Phase 1:  Dengie, 24 March 1994
  •   Phase 2:  Colne Estuary, 28 July 1994
  •   Phase 3:  Crouch and Roach Estuaries, 24 March 1995 and 22 July 1998
  •   Phase 4:  Blackwater Estuary, 12 May 1995
  •   Phase 5:  Foulness, 4 October 1996

Each phase has slightly different bird features and/or supporting features, but there is sufficient connectivity between the estuaries to include them in a single SPA site (JNCC, 2015). In total, the five SPAs cover an area of 229.38 Km2.

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

- 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
The site is large and a variety of fishing methods are undertaken across the site. Commercial fishing, including potting, netting and trawling, occurs within the site. There is low level commercial clam dredging in the river Crouch. The site also boasts an extensive cockle fishery which has been managed under the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order (TEFCO) since 1994. Bivalve mollusc mariculture occurs on the site, specifically for oysters (both native and Pacific) and mussels. Harvesting of bait and shellfish occurs on the shores. 

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 Mid Essex Coast SPA an area where intertidal seagrass occurs has been identified as at risk of damage from bottom towed fishing gear, and in response KEIFCA have implemented a Byelaw prohibiting the use of this gear over the seagrass feature.

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.