Our projects

Lyme Bay Reserve

In Lyme Bay, Blue Marine has developed a win-win model that benefits both the marine environment and small-scale fishermen practicing low-impact, responsible fishing. 

Lyme Bay is a Blue Marine flagship project, proving that sustainable fishing can co-exist with conservation. One of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the UK, with over 200 square kilometres protected from dredging and trawling, the Reserve preserves rocky reefs and the largest colony of pink sea fans in the British Isles. The collaborative model, initiated in 2012 by Blue Marine and local fishermen, brings fishermen, conservationists, researchers and regulators together to manage the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve, and support local small-scale, static gear fisheries within sustainable limits.

Over 15 years of research in Lyme Bay has shown how a whole-site approach to MPA management can lead to a 95% increase in reef species and enhance the abundance of fish by almost 400%, while also making the seabed more resilient to extreme storms.

Experiences from Lyme Bay reflect how people and nature are intricately linked when it comes to understanding and managing coastal ecosystems. Collaborative management between scientists, fishing communities, NGOs and policy makers, harnessed through a Lyme Bay Committee facilitated by Blue Marine, resulted in the co-design of conservation practices including voluntary Codes of Conduct, and built long-term trust across sectors.

Support for static gear fishermen abiding by the voluntary Code of Conduct and fishing within environmental limits, has been provided through facilities to optimize catch quality – insulated fish boxes, chiller units, ice machines – and a dedicated delivery van, to keep fish in prime condition and transported to market quickly, commanding competitive market prices.

In 2023, Blue Marine supported the establishment of the Lyme Bay Fisherman’s Community Interest Company (CIC). The CIC is a pioneering approach, representing a fishing community that has fully embraced – and promotes – conservation and sustainable fishing practices within the MPA to safeguard fish stocks and the marine environment for future generations.

The Lyme Bay model continues to provide a gold standard for the management of marine protected areas, delivering benefits to marine life and the communities that depend on it and creating ripple effects of positive change for effective MPA management across the globe.

The Lyme Bay Reserve case study summarises how the project has combined effective protection from damaging fishing practices with research, community engagement and close collaboration with local fishermen to restore an ecosystem.  This is one of many project case studies within our BLUEprint for MPAs  providing a toolkit of ideas and experience from around the globe in creating and effectively managing MPAs.

Our ‘Lyme Bay: The Road to Recovery’ film showcases how listening, learning and finding common ground between fishing communities and conservationists can create a win-win model for sustainable marine management.

Lyme Bay fisheries and conservation reserve

Lyme Bay

Key stats

22% increase pink sea fans in the Reserve

52% increase in number of species

4.5x more lobsters in the reserve

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