2012 Student research highlights marine potential for Arran
Last summer COAST hosted three MSc students, Ross Greig, Tim Cross and Rachel Bower from York University. Ross carried out a baseline study of crustaceans with Charlie Weir, Arran’s only remaining traditional creeler as part one of a two year York University study and Rachel surveyed attitudes to - and awareness of - the No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay. Tim, working as Leigh Howarth’s buddy on dives, carried out image analysis of seabed quadrants within and outwith the zone.
He also worked with Leigh on an experiment using fish bait to determine the presence of fish species. Leigh who was our MSc student in 2010 is now part way through a PhD studying the impact of the NTZ on marine life. Rachel has now published her results which are summarised below. Tim will publish his this spring.
Rachel’s study shows a high level of awareness of the NTZ on Arran but lower levels of awareness from visitors, particularly on their way to the island. Most respondents felt positively about the NTZ and would like to see a higher percentage of No Take Zones in UK waters. There was some confusion about what activities are permitted within the NTZ and this is an area we will be working on. Businesses with an environmental interest tend to mention us in marketing but there are many businesses such as B&Bs which do not make the most of the community marine reserve and NTZ in their marketing. Interestingly, nearly 80% of respondents said they would visit a marine interpretation centre if one existed. We will have a good think about this and welcome your comments on the idea. Download the full report: Social Factors in a Fully Protected Marine Reserve: Awareness Of and Attitudes Towards the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone
Ross Greig’s baseline study which he carried out while crewing with Charlie Weir involved early starts and long days which would daunt most of us. Ross, though, quickly got the bug and was sorry when the study came to an end. The study provided baseline data on lobsters (Homarus gammarus) and prawns (Nephrops norvegicus) from outside the No Take Zone around the coast of Arran. Variability in carapace size between males and females and temporal variability was observed. This year we plan to assess crustacean populations within the NTZ and compare these populations with the data that Ross Greig collected with Charlie Weir’s assistance. Our thanks are due to Charlie for his willingness to participate in the study and assist Ross in the identification, sexing and sizing of crustaceans during the study.