16 May 2017

Maritime Festival and Boat Show Has Everything This Week for Conservationists and Marine Enthusiasts  

Unique Poole Hosts Celebration of the Sea and Looks to Protect Sensitive Environments

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Shipping News Feature UK – Not all harbours are deep water anchorages for the largest of the world's seagoing vessels, many of course are no more than tidal resting places for a local fishing fleet or a nest of small sailing and pleasure craft. Many however are unique in character and this definitely applies to Poole Harbour in Dorset, often described as the largest natural harbour in Europe. This singular waterway is home to both a significant freight and channel ferry port whilst retaining its position as a cherished Marine Protected Area, recognised not least for its internationally significant bird populations, whilst its location on the central south coast also makes it a haven for non-native species and a field laboratory for climate change effects.

This week sees the running of the Poole Maritime Festival which runs until May 21, during three days of which (15 – 17) the event hosts a major international conference on Marine Protected Areas when around two hundred specialists in marine conservation are attending eighty presentations and displays at premises on the port estate provided by one of the major sponsors, Poole Harbour Commissioners.

The siting of the event is particularly appropriate as the natural harbour represents in microcosm the world wide tensions between environment and development. The 300 metre wide harbour entrance separates an unspoiled heavily protected natural maritime landscape of considerable importance from an urban landscape where property prices are compared with Manhattan and Hong Kong Island in the world wide table of real estate values.

The conference has been organised by the Poole Harbour Study Group in collaboration with the Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association and the subjects will range from Poole Harbour: an important Marine Protected Area (MPA) itself, to presentations on sites elsewhere in Britain and Europe and as far away as Pitcairn and the Galapagos Islands. Heavyweight major sponsors for the event include: Bournemouth University; Dorset Wildlife Trust; the Environment Agency; Natural England; the National Trust; Poole Harbour Commissioners and the Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority.

The Maritime Festival includes another popular subsidiary event, the Poole Harbour Boat Show which in association with Sunseeker, the local luxury yacht builder, features a significant Royal Navy and Royal Marines presence. HMS Hurworth, a mine countermeasures vessel, will be open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday (20 and 21 May). In addition, HMS Puncher, a small patrol vessel used for cadet training will also be berthed alongside. On shore, the Royal Marines will be displaying a variety of equipment, with a highlight being the ever-popular climbing wall. Both ships and the Royal Marine display will be in the new Ballast Quay exhibition area which is easily accessed from Town Quay via the free passenger boat service.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines displays are open to the public on 20 and 21 May between 10:00 to 18:00. The Royal Marines ‘Beating the Retreat’ takes place on Town Quay at 18:15 and this fantastic pageant of military music, precision drill and colour dating back to the 16th century is a real showstopper, with the Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth preserving a unique piece of living history. Jim Stewart, Chief Executive of Poole Harbour Commissioners (organisers of the show) said:

“The show has steadily grown since it was launched three years ago and we are delighted to see both the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines at this year’s event. I know that the ships, display and Beating the Retreat will be extremely popular with all our visitors we look forward to welcoming them to the Poole Harbour Boat Show.”

Photo: Sandwich Terns at Holes Bay in Upton Lake to the North of the Harbour.

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