Stretching from Ceibwr Bay in Pembrokeshire, north to Aberarth in Ceredigion and extending almost 20km from the coast, Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protects the wildlife found in around 1000km2 of sea.
The protected area is home to an amazingly rich variety of marine animals and plants, from reef-building worms to bottlenose dolphins – the area is home to Europe’s largest population of these animals and there are few places where they are more easily seen in the wild.
There are seven features for conservation for which it is designated:
• Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
• Atlantic Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
• River Lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis)
• Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
• Sandbanks (slightly covered by seawater at all times)
• Sea caves (submerged or partially submerged)
The aim of the SAC is to maintain its rich and varied marine life (biodiversity) in at least as good a condition as when the site was first designated – ideally to bring it into ‘Favourable conservation status’.
Management of the SAC is directed through the Relevant Authorities Group (RAG), coordinated by a SAC Officer. They produced the Management Scheme and this means special attention should be made to ensure that human activities carried out in the area are done so sustainably.
The origin of Special Areas of Conservation
The 1992 Rio Earth Summit brought biodiversity to the global political agenda. In response, the European Community produced the Habitats Directive. It aims to halt the loss of biodiversity across the European Union by instructing governments to designate Special Areas of Conservation to protect the continent’s most important wildlife sites. Together with areas designated under the Birds Directive (known as Special Protection Areas) these create a continent-wide network of protected sites, known as the Natura 2000 (N2K) network, of which Cardigan Bay SAC forms a small but important part.
Visit http://www.cardiganbaysac.org.uk/ for more information.