The ecological consequences of stopping fishing at Lundy Island: The UK's first No-Take Zone

Dr Miles Hoskin and Associate Professor Ross Coleman


Background
Lundy

Lundy is an island in the middle of the productive, tide-swept waters of the Bristol Channel . It supports diverse marine habitats and species including several that are a priority for conservation at national and European levels. To protect Lundy’s marine life from potential impacts of commercial fishing and recreational harvesting, part of the island’s inshore waters were designated as a No-Take Zone (NTZ) in 2003. The Lundy NTZ occupies ~4 km2 and includes rocky and sedimentary habitats. At present, this is the only statutory NTZ for nature conservation in the UK.

Aims

From 2004 to 2007, there was a programme of annual sampling to test hypotheses of ecological and fisheries effects of the Lundy NTZ. Data collection involved sampling of lobsters and crabs using baited pots and, in separate studies, diver-sampling of long-lived epifauna on sub-tidal rocky habitats and scallops on sedimentary habitats. Potential effects of the NTZ were assessed via comparisons with appropriate control locations where fishing continues. The potting study also included larger-scale comparisons with locations in South Wales and North Devon.



Importance
Divers setting up the experiment

This research into the first Statutory conservation-based NTZ in UK waters has demonstrated that some species can and do show rapid recovery from fishery related disturbances. In fact, the lobster population showed the greatest extent of expansion post-establishment of the NTZ of any NTZ globally. This is surprising given that the Lundy NTZ is very small, less than 4km2. This has demonstrated to the UK Government and other stakeholders that small marine reserves can be effective. There is now a stated intent to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas in the UK enshrined in law in the recently passed Marine and Coastal Access Bill (2009).

Results

The NTZ showed mixed results. Lobsters for example showed a great increase in number and average size as a result of the NTZ, whereas scallops and sessile epifauna showed little or no changes with pre-existing patterns of differences in abundance not changing over time. Further detail will be provided as publications arise.