Lundy No Take Zone; studying the ecological effects of a No Take Zone 19 years after designation  

Designated in 2003, the Lundy no take zone was the first of its kind in the UK and one of only four which currently exist in the UK including Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran, Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, and the Medway Estuary in Kent. It offers a unique opportunity to study the effect of strict levels of marine protection, which would provide valuable evidence to support the designation of the Highly Protected Marine Areas.  

In the summer of 2022, we conducted a potting study at Lundy with the aim to assess whether the designation of an NTZ provides increased economic value to commercial fishers in the form of increased catch. The idea being that the exclusion of all fishing allows stocks to recover and overspill into the surrounding water for harvest. If successful, this system should enhance fisheries, generate carbon & biodiversity revenue, and develop tourism in coastal areas 

Lundy is a granitic outcrop situated in the Bristol channel 19km off the North Coast of Devon. It supports a diverse range of marine habitats and species including some which are nationally rare such as the cup coral. The word Lundy is Norse for “puffin island”, with the island known for its colonies of puffins among other seabirds which nest at Lundy from April to July.  

Lundy is an island of firsts for Marine Conservation in the UK– as early as 1972, a small voluntary reserve was created in the seas surrounding the island. Following this, Lundy was designated as the first Marine Nature Reserve in the UK in 1986. This has been since been transferred to the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone, specifically designed to protect populations of the rare spiny lobster or crawfish. In 2000, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was designated under the European Union’s Habitats Directive due to the presence of Annex I habitats – reefs, caves and subtidal sandbanks, and the resident population of the Annex II species – grey seals. Finally, the Lundy NTZ was introduced in 2003 – the of its kind in the UK.

This project built on a dataset studying the ecological effect of the Lundy NTZ on local lobster populations with data collected between 2004 and 2013 by Hoskin, Coleman and von Carlshausen (2009) and the Devon and Severn IFCA. The study by Hoskin et al. found a positive effect on Lobster and Brown crab populations in the NTZ between 2004 and 2008. Further data collected by the D&S IFCA also found lobster populations within the NTZ had higher catch abundances and larger carapace sizes. 

In 2022, catch abundance, size and weight of lobster Homarus gammarus, brown crab Cancer pagurus, velvet crab Necora puber and spider crab Maja squinado were compared inside and outside the Lundy NTZ. In addition, proportion of females with eggs and presence of any damage or disease was noted. Finally, lobster and brown crab were tagged using small waterproof tags stuck to the carapace. We hoped this would provide some insight into any movements of individuals.

The work undertaken in 2022 was funded by the Community Renewal Fund, North Devon Biosphere and South-West Partnership for Economic Prosperity. Fieldwork was conducted in partnership with the Lundy Marine Festival.