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Lyme Bay

In Lyme Bay, BLUE 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 flagship project, proving sustainable fishing can co-exist with conservation. One of the largest marine protected areas in the UK protected from dredging and trawling, it preserves rocky reefs and the largest colony of pink sea fans in the British Isles. The collaborative model, initiated in 2012 by BLUE and local fishermen, has worked to manage the remaining small-scale, static gear fisheries within sustainable limits.

2019 saw BLUE publish a pioneering four-year study showing the impact of pot fishing within MPAs. The study, undertaken with Plymouth University, monitored the effect of potting on Lyme’s reefs and fishermen’s catch. It showed that the number of pots used by fishermen under a voluntary code of conduct had little impact on the marine environment. However, if commercial intensity were to increase above a measurable “threshold”, the study revealed that the reef species that have started to return following the ban on trawling could be negatively affected.

BLUE also created the Reserve Seafood brand to provide new routes to market with a regular van taking fish to Plymouth. To support this, fishermen carry vessel trackers which guarantee the traceability of each catch.

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.

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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