When the Lyme Bay Marine Protected Area (MPA) was introduced in 2008, it was hailed a seminal designation for marine conservation in the UK. The country’s largest MPA at the time, closing upwards of 200 km2 of marine area to bottom-towed fishing, it demonstrated a forward thinking use of the ‘whole-site’ approach to managing our marine habitats. A decade on, research pioneered by the University of Plymouth has demonstrated an incredible gain for the ecology, fisheries and communities of Lyme Bay.
As a combined result of the ban on mobile gear and the collaborative approach introduced by BLUE, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of reef species since 2008, a doubling of scallop landings, a quadrupling of juvenile lobsters and a two and a half times increase in landings of brown crabs. Research has included a UK first - proving there is a sweet spot between fishing and conservation where you can fish less but catch more fish of better quality. This method is currently being rolled out by BLUE across other inshore marine sites in the UK.