Since 2003 it has been illegal to remove sea life from a small area off the east coast of Lundy. This area is known as the Lundy No Take Zone (NTZ). Although a number of exclusion areas exist for fisheries, ports and military management, this NTZ is the first to be designated primarily for nature conservation purposes. The NTZ was developed and agreed with local interest groups, and was implemented through a fisheries bylaw (under Devon Sea Fisheries Committee powers).
Activities such as scallop harvesting, dredging, beam trawling, potting for crabs and lobsters, and angling all previously occurred in the area, but have now been excluded from the NTZ.
- To allow full recovery and protection of the subtidal habitats and associated species from previous extractive use (potting for lobster and edible crab; recreational angling and diver-take).
- Initiate a trial for the establishment of further highly protected marine reserves.
- To enhance the knowledge of the effects of NTZs and their role in marine wildlife management in the UK.
What is protected?
The 3.3km2 NTZ was designed to protect marine wildlife while improving local fish stocks for the benefit of future generations. Whilst the NTZ is relatively small, it contains a great variety of habitats and species, many of which are nationally important.
The subtidal habitats include:
- Rocky reefs
- Sediment flats and banks
- The species expected to benefit are primarily fragile, long-lived, slow reproducing colonial animals, crustaceans, shellfish and fish that live on the reefs and sediment. These include:
- Common lobster and crawfish
- Edible crab
- Wrasse and other territorial fish species.
The intention of the NTZ designation is that Lundy’s marine environment will gain from the opportunity to return to a more natural state through the removal of anthropogenic impacts. It is hoped that this will have a cascade effect, benefiting the local tourism and diving industries as people are drawn to see the site for themselves. In addition, scientists from the D&S IFCA are looking for evidence of a ‘spill over effect’ as the NTZ provides a protected brood stock of adult shellfish which is likely to offer a high level of recruitment to the surrounding areas which are open to fishing by the local community.
NTZ Science and monitoring
The Lundy NTZ was established in 2003. Accompanying its designation was a comprehensive, 5 year survey which was designed to determine whether the level of protection provided delivered any of the intended environmental benefits.
Natural England initiated a study, led and designed by professional scientists Dr Miles Hoskin & Dr Ross Coleman, to monitor the impact of the NTZ designation on 3 different aspects of Lundy’s marine life. The study was supported by a partnership consisting of Natural England (previously English Nature), DEFRA, WWF and the MBA. The three elements of the study were:
- Rocky habitats (crabs and lobsters)
- Epifauna on subtidal reefs (sponges, soft corals, anemones and starfish)
Data collected from within the NTZ was compared with data collected at control sites around Lundy, along the N Devon coast, and from similar habitats in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Control sites provide an important context to the work so that we can understand whether changes seen in the NTZ are an effect of the NTZ or just natural variation. The final report of this initial survey work is available here.
In addition, since 2008 Devon and Severn IFCA (previously DSFC) have been carrying out streamer tagging monitoring of lobsters to gather information about whether juvenile lobsters are moving from within the boundary of the NTZ into surrounding areas where they may be fished when they reach a landable size. They have also looked at whether the NTZ designation has been more effective at protecting male lobsters than female lobsters.
Natural England regularly monitors and reports on the condition of the subtidal features protected by the SAC designation.