Scotland's first fully protected marine reserve, and only the second in the UK, is already providing commercial and conservation benefits, according to new research.
After only two years in operation, it is already showing positive signs for both fishermen and conservationists, according to a study by the University of York and the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST).
The research, published in the journal Marine Biology, shows that commercially valuable scallops and several species of algae known to promote biodiversity are much more abundant in the marine reserve, where fishing is banned, than in surrounding waters.
The study follows years of campaigning by COAST, whose efforts helped to turn a small area of seabed in Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran into a marine reserve in October 2008. Many marine reserves are being developed in Europe and around the world, where they are showing a range of benefits. These areas of sea are protected from fishing and other extractive activities, allowing natural ecosystems to recover and flourish.
Lead author of the study, Leigh Howarth, who carried out the research during his MSc degree in the Environment Department at York, said: "Marine ecosystems can continue to recover for decades when protected inside reserves, the reason this study is so exciting is because this is just the beginning".
One of the most significant findings of the work was that the abundance of juvenile scallops was much higher in the reserve than outside. This was linked to the high levels of kelp and maerl, a type of algae that forms coral-like beds, inside the reserve where adult scallops were also larger and older. As stocks of scallops build up in marine reserves they can start to breed at high levels, helping to seed surrounding fishing grounds.
Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart, who supervised the project, added "It is brilliant that our results have provided a win-win scenario. Marine reserves like t
|Contact: David Garner|
University of York