Click here to view a map of activities in the SWMEMS

Land-based recreational activities and public access
Land based activities can include walking, horse riding, cycling, swimming, sunbathing, motorbike/quad riding, car/off-road vehicle driving, numerous sporting activities, angling, shooting, golf, camping, barbeques, bird watching, botanising, mineral and fossil collecting. Thus, land-based recreation is greatly variable in intensity, seasonality and time period and takes place at virtually all localities throughout the SWMEMS area, but concentrated on sites with good access and public amenities, such as Bembridge, Whitecliff Bay, Shanklin, Ventnor, Sandown, Freshwater.

Table of land-based recreational activities

Various activities including helicopter flying, plane flying, parachuting/sky diving, gliding, microlite flying, paragliding, Hang gliding, kite flying and model plane/glider/helicopter flying all constitute airborne sports. The wide variation in type of activity naturally adds much variability to the intensity variations of the activities and seasonal/temporal variations. Aircraft are not allowed to fly within 1500 vertical feet of the tallest building in a built up area and 500 feet of a structure, vehicle or person in a rural area. Kite and model flying can occur in most areas of beach and public open space on the island. Bembridge and Sandown airports lie within the SWMEMS area and so aircraft, glider and helicopter flights are likely to encroach over the SWMEMS from these points.

Table of airborne activities

Public access within the SWMEMS is mostly on foot, with lesser degrees of access by horse, bicycle, boat, motor vehicle or boat and motor vehicle combined (as on slipways and some beaches). Intensity varies both seasonally (greatest use in summer), spatially (with some areas having greater land use intensity than others) and with type of access (motor vehicular access for example causing greater deterioration and disturbance than access by foot). A public footpath and bridleway runs all the way from Bembridge to Needles, covering the whole SWMEMS area. Access through Rights of Access Areas as designated by the Countryside Agency can be found at Culver Cliff, the Needles, Compton Bay and Rocken End, however, conditions limit these areas to public use on foot; horses and bicycles are not permitted and dogs are restricted to leads. Numerous slipways can also be found at Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown. There are a small number of houseboats at Wootton Creek, which are mainly occupied during the summer months.

Table of access

Table of houseboats

The IWCCE conducts educational walks and sampling rock pools along the coastal path from Bonchurch to Steephill Cove during the summer months. Dinosaur Isle also conducts a number of fossil hunts along the SWMEMS. A number of research activities take place throughout the SWMEMS. IWCCE also conducts research activities.

Table of educational visits

Table of research

Wildfowling is the activity the shooting of wild birds (mostly ducks and geese), either from a boat or from land, often in conjunction with the use of trained dogs. Wildfowling occurs mostly on coastal marshes where permission is granted throughout the SWMEMS. The wildfowling season in England occurs from 1st September until 20th February, ducks and geese the only target allowed after 31st January.

Table of wildfowling

Beach cleaning takes place at the popular tourist beaches. Hand picking of litter occurs daily throughout the summer and monthly during the winter at Yaverland, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, Bonchurch and St Lawrence. Mechanical cleaning occurs daily in the summer and monthly during the winter at Sandown and Shanklin.

Table of beach cleaning

Sea-based recreational activities
Water sports (personal water craft, windsurfing, kayaking, kite surfing, dingy sailing, waterskiing and swimming) take place all year round with a definite increase in concentration during the summer-autumn period in most localities throughout the SWMEMS area. Some activities will concentrate around the major access points in the harbours and estuaries (waterskiing is within a prescribed area to the North West of Wootton Creek).

Table of sea-based recreational activities

Sailing takes place throughout the SWMEMS all year round, although far more activity occurs in the summer and particularly around the time of various boating festivals. Similarly, power boating takes place mainly in the summer months with festivals being held at Ventnor and mooring at Ventnor Haven.

Table of sailing

Table of power boating

Table of navigation

Table of mooring

Table of anchoring


Commercial and recreational fishing activity
The Southern Sea Fisheries undertake commercial fishing activities in all areas south of the Isle of Wight all year round. Commercial fishing includes demersal trawling, drift netting, crustacean and whelk potting, fish traps, long lining, and set netting all year round. The Environment Agency also manages fyke netting. Shellfish are extracted commercially and non-commercially from either the seabed, estuary bed or from sand or mud flats. Small scale collection for personal consumption takes place on beaches and mudflats within the SWMEMS.

Tables of commercial fishing activities

Table of shellfish laying

Table of shellfish collection

Table of shellfish dredging

Angling occurs throughout the SWMEMS and takes place either from the shore (coastline or estuary) or from a boat, although most angling takes place from the shore. It is mostly an informal activity, although there are a number of angling clubs and some commercial vessels organise sea angling trips. There is some seasonal intensity variation in response to fish life cycles. The Flounder ( Platychthes flesus ) season being a period particularly intense activity in late autumn/early winter, with competitions from the shoreline greatly concentrating activity. Bait digging takes place on intertidal mudflats and sand flats between Bembridge and Foreland most of the year although can increase in intensity around various competitions, reaching a probable peak in autumn.

Table of angling

Table of bait collection

Shipping activities
Commercial shipping either involves the carrying of freight and cargo by sea or the carrying of passengers and vehicles by boat. As many of the vessels involved are very large it is generally quite a high intensity activity, with potentially high degrees of noise and visual pollution and water disturbance. Some elements of this activity have seasonal variation (grain export, ferries during the summer months). There are Car Ferry operations at Wootton Creek, passenger ferry operations at Ryde Pier, Hovercraft operations at Ryde foreshore and other transiting commercial shipping using the Solent .

Maintenance dredging takes place at the entrance to Bembridge Harbour . The process is generally carried out in cycles of one to several years, depending on local sediment deposition rates and intensity of use. Maintenance dredging took place in Ventnor Haven in 2005. There are four dredging disposal (spoil) grounds within the vicinity of the SWMEMS: WO81 West Wight; WO80 Hurst Fort; WO90 Needles; and WO60 Nab Tower. Aggregate dredging takes place at 3 licensed areas to the south west of the isle of Wight and a further eight to the east (west of Sesley Bill) and at east two areas 372(1) and 372(2) are going through the application process, these are east of the island. This activity occurs intermittently within the licensed areas for the period of permission.

Table of commercial shipping activities

Table of maintenance dredging

Table of aggregate dredging

Table of dredging disposal

Cleaning and maintenance of slip-ways is mostly undertaken using a high pressure hose, in some circumstances a mild detergent may be used. Slipway maintenance usually involves small scale repairs and alterations to the structure of the slipways and is more likely to be carried out in the summer. This activity occurs at most private and public slipways throughout the SWMEMS in Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown, the majority of slipways being in the harbours and marinas.

Table of slipway construction

Table of cleaning and maintenance of slipways

Marine pollution
Minor oil spills have occurred in Sandown Bay and potentially an oil spill incident can happen at any time of the year, and with the presence of Fawley Oil refinery in the immediate SWMEMS area there is a possibility of a catastrophic spillage. Industrial and domestic effluent can be found at localised outfalls within the SWMEMS. Outfall maintenance and repair occurs throughout the SWMEMS area. Storm water and treated outfall occurs 3000m off Yaverland. A holding tank and storm water outflow occurs 100m off Shanklin. A storm outfall and pumping station also occurs off Ventnor. The widespread nature of these outfalls and their varied construction, age and use means that their maintenance and replacement is a regular activity throughout the SWMEMS area. Another possible source of marine pollution is from agricultural run off in arable areas throughout the SWMEMS. The Environment Agency has produced point source maps of these areas.

Table of oil spill

Table of industrial and domestic outfalls

Table of agricultural run-off

Coastal development and coastal defence
Coastal development is ongoing and takes place throughout most areas within the SWMEMS, such as Shanklin, Ventnor and Sandown. A number of coastal defence initiatives take place along the SWMEMS coastline such as Shanklin, Sandown, Bonchurch. Foreshore recharge is the artificial deposition of different sediments or aggregates to replenish various parts of the coastline and this takes place at Bembridge, Monks bay, Sandown and Shanklin as and when it is needed.