Poole Harbour is protected and recognised, both nationally and internationally, for its ecological importance. However, it has also been classified as polluted and ‘eutrophic’. These twin designations – protected yet polluted – exemplify the condition of many English estuaries, making Poole Harbour a useful case study for elucidating the circumstances behind this apparent paradox. The outcome of a conference entitled ‘Spotlight on Poole Harbour: Environment & Economics’ organised by the Poole Harbour Study Group, this book consists of four main parts. After a short preamble, Part I, ‘Background’, provides a broad introduction to the harbour in terms of its pre-historical and historical significance for human communities and a conceptual overview of its modern character and uses. Part II, ‘Ecology’, contains chapters on subjects ranging from plankton to mammals. Insofar as they also consider anthropogenic aspects of the ecology, these contributions anticipate the remaining sections of the book, which deal specifically with aspects of the ecological service industries supported by Poole Harbour. Part III, ‘Fisheries’, covers recreational and commercial fishing and aquaculture, examining economic value and key shellfish species. Part IV, ‘Water Quality’, addresses those industries for which the harbour’s chemical and biological processes remediate various effluents, as well as some of the environmental consequences and noteworthy efforts to reduce such impacts. Part V, ‘Conclusion’, by the editors looks at certain general shortcomings of environmental legislation and regulation in the case of Poole Harbour. A central concern throughout is the question of sustainable development in coastal estuarine and marine contexts, making this far-reaching study relevant well beyond the bounds of its primary geographical focus.
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