Pioneering Scottish marine project paves the way for the revival of UK seabeds
Marine life has returned at dramatic levels to the waters of the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone, a new study from the University of York has shown.
Numbers of some species have increased by nearly four-fold since this community-backed project started twelve years ago. Authors of the study say, that at a time of unprecedented pressure on our seas, the project has kick-started a national movement to protect UK coastal waters from over-fishing and loss of biodiversity.
A team of researchers from the University of York, led by Dr Bryce Stewart (Department of Environment and Geography), have, for the last decade, been tracking the recovery of marine life in the No Take Zone and wider Marine Protected Area. The results reveal that there are nearly four times more king scallops in the area since 2010, the size of adult scallops has increased and there are more juvenile scallops present in the area. Lobsters are also shown to be benefiting, with growing numbers of larger lobsters and evidence of lobster ‘spillover’ into surrounding areas.
Additionally, dive surveys of the area show the seabed is recovering after damage caused by fishing with trawls and dredges, with the growth of structurally complex ‘nursery habitats’ which provide refuge for marine life.
While scientific surveys show the zone has helped to boost biodiversity and marine life, the study argues that, of more importance, is the influence the Lamlash Bay project and COAST have had on marine protection nationally and internationally. The findings are acting as a blueprint to support similar areas and other coastal communities around Scotland and further afield, and underline the case for increased marine protection.