Lyme Bay has been the focus of ecological monitoring for eleven consecutive years, since the cessation of bottom-towed fishing in 2008 within the Marine Protected Area (MPA). This makes the Dorset and East Devon FLAG region home to the UK’s best example of MPA management and monitoring. Recover-Reef will build on this long-term ecological monitoring programme, to allow Lyme Bay to be the flagship site for this approach to the coexistence of fisheries and conservation. Most recently, this monitoring has taken place under the Reserve Effects Tested and Understood to validate ReturN (RETURN) project.

Funded by the Dorset & East Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) and European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF), Recover-Reef follows on from the RETURN project. By facilitating a continuation of this monitoring, this project adds evidence to evaluate how management approaches lend themselves to the recovery of reef systems which support commercially important shellfish and finfish stocks.

Furthermore, it is known that structurally complex habitats are important areas for the settlement, feeding, nursery and shelter of marine species. The data will be used to evaluate the associations of mobile fauna with habitats with differing levels of complexity, and assess how different natural and man-made stressors affect the system. Such consistent monitoring makes it possible to understand the natural variability of an ecosystem, allowing assessment of the relative effects of natural and human-induced disturbances.