A Natural Environment
Dart Estuary Forum
The inaurgural meeting of the newly formed Dart Estuary Forum took place on Monday 18th June at Follaton House in Totnes. More to follow.
For water quality information please see this link from the Environment Agency
Our estuaries are a defining feature of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and although frequently overlooked the benefits that we enjoy from them are truly immense – everything from some of the air we breathe and the food we eat, to the water we play and work on …or even in.
The quality of the estuary’s water isn’t just a concern to those that like to feel the spray in their face whilst planing inches above the water on a trapeze but to anyone who makes a living oyster farming on the shores or fishing the depths … the local restaurants that depend upon them and we that enjoy them.
Everyone who lives, works or plays within the catchment of the estuary can and is likely to have an impact on the waters that flow through. Consider that most every sink, drain, drive, road, garden and field eventually drains through the estuary … with the many drops of oil, phosphate rich detergents, nitrate rich food waste, garden pesticides and fertilisers. Suddenly, it’s hardly rocket science to take an interest and care … it’s common science. It’s not just the health of the water that matters to us all but also the shoreline saltmarsh and rocky shores and even the mud – it might not look much but you have to ask yourself why the birds, fish and other creatures are here is such huge numbers?
The Dart Estuary Environmental Management Plan, developed by the local community, businesses and interest groups, gives some guidance on ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of the estuary and may be viewed at www.SouthDevonAONB.org.uk. The plan forms a local component of the statutory South Devon AONB management plan. Raising awareness about the sustainable management and natural history of the estuary is a major part of our work and a programme of guided events is run locally. South Devon AONB Estuaries Officer, Nigel Mortimer, is available to give illustrated talks and guided field visits about the South Devon estuaries to local schools and groups by prior arrangement. Email: Nigel.Mortimer@SouthDevonAONB.org.uk or tel: 01803 861465
Enjoying the wild side
The wonderful Dart estuary has something for everybody – from busy quays and high-street shopping to blue-sky hidden retreats and quiet anchorages. But if you want to enjoy the local wildlife, this section is for you. The estuary supports significant wildlife populations that are easily disturbed – to enjoy it you’ll need to visit quietly and responsibly, and in particular:
- Keep your speed down and avoid wash – some wildlife has learnt that they can ignore moving boats, so often best to pass wildlife and come back for another pass than stop
- Keep dogs under strict close control – dogs are unpredictable to wildlife and almost always taken as a threat
- Take all waste home - common sense but don’t throw seafood from outside the estuary ‘back’ either as this could introduce aliens!
- When collecting wild food, if you want to come back, only take cuttings of plants and only as much as you are likely to use
- And if you see anything unusual – report it!
Look after your health
For work or play, our health is interlinked with that of our surroundings - looking after it is a ‘no brainer’, an investment in our own future! While most of our local problems are small, their impacts are often cumulative, that is, because they may happen so often they can build into something quite significant, e.g. spillages from refuelling. As ever, prevention is better than cure, especially in the coastal environment and the answer is pure common sense – if we all take just a little extra care, the cumulative benefits can only be equally large!
Water quality – good water quality affects us all – it is pretty good here but it could be better, so please join the locals in;
- Sorting out all oil leaks, every drop counts - fit an oil filter to your bilge pump or use a bilge sock
- Using only phosphate free detergents
- Only pumping-out what you must – everything else 3miles away from the local oyster farms!
- Using the local brown bin system for food waste – not the sewage system!
- Refuelling with care, make use of every drop, use a fuel collar to catch drips and blowback & have a spill kit handy (NB cleaning spills with detergent makes the impact worse, not better!)
- Scrub your hull once a year to help stop the spread of aliens and put the fouling in the bin not back in the water.
Please report all pollution incidents quickly: Tel 0800 807060 (24hrs)