Lyme Bay is a de facto multiple use marine protected area, not a no-take zone. So the model of a terrestrial national park, where multiple uses are encouraged, as long as none are damaging to the landscape or nature conservation designations, is the most valuable. A marine national park is also, we suspect, what the public expects of a marine protected area and much closer to what a marine protected area is recognised as being internationally. It is therefore reasonable to expect Lyme Bay to be managed as other marine protected areas are internationally, on an ecosystem basis. Ecosystem level monitoring should be established and ongoing and the various uses of the Lyme Bay should be assessed to ensure they do not conflict with nature conservation objectives. For a variety of reasons that is not what is going on in Lyme Bay at present. And it is a deficiency recognised first by the fishermen themselves and which they would like to rectify.
The Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve has brought together fishermen, scientists, conservationists and regulators to achieve a ‘win, win, win’ outcome for conservation, fisheries and communities. Since 2012 the Reserve’s Consultative Committee that includes all local fishermen from ports encompassed by the Reserve is working to achieve the desired ‘wins’ of
1. Best practice in protecting biodiversity within a European Special Area of Conservation
2. Best practice in managing fish and shellfish stocks
3. Creating maximum long-term benefits for coastal communities by adopting best practice
We believe that this bottom-up approach could rectify much that has gone wrong in marine conservation in the UK by involving local communities and finding ways of maximising the benefits of both fishing and conservation.