The whole of the Goodwin Sands have been proposed by Kent Wildlife Trust to be designated a Marine Conservation Zone by DEFRA by 2018 (Zone 17 of the national framework of MCZs). It does not make any sense that the very feature of the MCZ, which in this case is the seabed itself, should be allowed to be damaged or destroyed by dredging prior to its designation.
The proposed dredging zone includes the spawning and nursery grounds of several varieties of fish and the whole ecosystem of the area is based upon the sandeel which inhabits the seabed. Blue mussels, ross worms, shellfish, and the protected Thornback Ray are also found here. Remove the sand and gravel from the seabed and the natural habitat of all these species is lost.
The sediment plume (suspension of sediment in the water) created by the dredging risks asphyxiating fish eggs and less mobile sealife.
Sandeels inhabit this area of the sands in large numbers. However, a detailed survey would have to be carried out at night when the eels congregate on the seabed but the vessel operators deem it too dangerous, so no survey was actually done. The presence of Sandals is thus under estimated in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
A colony of about 350 grey seals live on the sandbanks north of the proposed dredging zone. They will be disturbed in their haul out site by the noise and vibration of the massive dredgers so close to their habitat. Also, their source of food would be reduced.
Conservationists are concerned this disturbance will cause fundamental changes in their behaviour including spontaneous abortions during the breeding season and pups becoming separated from their mother and ending up alone on the beaches of Kent.