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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 that sustainable fishing can co-exist with conservation. One of the largest marine protected areas in the UK, with over 90 square nautical miles 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 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. 

2020 marked ten years since the Lyme Bay marine protected area was designated. This landmark was celebrated with the launch of a short documentary-film – ‘Lyme Bay: The Road to Recovery’. The film showcases how listening, learning and finding common ground between fishing communities and conservationists can create a win-win model for sustainable marine management. 

BLUE created the Reserve Seafood brand to market the sustainable, premium quality, provenance-assured seafood of Lyme Bay, with a van taking fish direct from quayside to market to ensure top quality fresh fish. Fishermen selling their catch through Reserve Seafood follow a voluntary code of conduct to ensure fishing is within environmental limits.  The market uplift associated with their sustainably caught, high quality catch rewards the fishermen’s dedication to fishing responsibly and to supporting conservation best-practice management measures. 

A decade of research has shown a measurable revival of marine habitats, rare species and many fish stocks, all resulting in benefits for the fishermen involved in the project.  A recent study reported fishermen experienced increased catches and premium prices for their fish, leading to higher levels of job and income satisfaction, and a desire by younger generations to enter the industry. 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 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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