Scotland’s first no-take reserve is promoting marine recovery

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (C.O.A.S.T.) reports, September newsletter:” Scotland’s first ever No Take Zone (NTZ) at Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran celebrates its fifth birthday this week. Coinciding with celebrations on the island is a summary of scientific research confirming the NTZ is promoting the recovery of scallops, lobster, fish and seabed habitats.

The research findings have been welcomed by the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), the local, voluntary, non profit organisation which promoted the original creation of the NTZ in 2008 and is now actively campaigning for the coastal area around the southern half of Arran, including the NTZ, to be designated one of 33 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland.

The Lamlash Bay NTZ, which is also the first community marine designation in the UK, was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2008 and its Order 317 prohibits any fishing not for research purposes between the northern end of Holy Island and the opposing coast of Arran.

Scientific surveys and analyses of the NTZ in the period up to 2012 show that scallops are 50% more abundant than before the NTZ was introduced, Queenies are 45% more abundant and the larger sizes of both means their reproductive capacities have greatly increased.

In terms of seabed recovery, those animals and plants that attach to the seabed such as maerlMaerl Maerl is a collective term for several species of red seaweed, with hard, chalky skeletons. It is rock hard and, unlike other seaweeds, it grows as unattached rounded nodules or short, branched shapes on the seabed. Like all seaweeds, maerl needs sunlight to grow, and it only occurs to a depth of about 20m., seaweed and sponges are two times more abundant within the NTZ. There are now many more large lobsters in the NTZ compared to surrounding areas and early observations suggests juvenile cod and whiting prefer inhabiting the NTZ due to its more complex seabed environment.

Howard Wood, Chair, COAST, said, “The whole community of Arran and all of those with an interest in the restoration of fragile marine habitats will be encouraged by what has been achieved within the Lamlash Bay NTZ over its first five years. The project shows coastal communities can take the lead in restoring their marine environment with support from national bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland. The extensive scientific research carried out here demonstrates the potential for the recovery of sensitive coastal environments to their former health and productivity. The whole Clyde coastal area has become one of the most degraded seas in the UK over recent decades and the principal reason for this is overfishing. While there are some important differences between the proposed MPA and the NTZ, our experience at Lamlash Bay points the way forward, underlining the case for all three of the proposed MPAs in the Clyde area, including the South Arran MPA, for which there is substantial and growing support from across the community.”

Local MSP Kenneth Gibson has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament recognising the achievements of the Lamlash Bay NTZ and, to date, the motion has been supported by 31 of his fellow MSPs from all majority parties. When designated it was intended the Lamlash Bay NTZ would influence future marine policy.

Marine Scotland’s press release on the fifth anniversary of the NTZ quotes Richard Lochhead, Fisheries Secretary as saying, “COAST members and representatives are to be commended for their on-going efforts to facilitate and encourage scientific survey work in Lamlash Bay. The information collected will be invaluable when it comes to deciding on the future marine management of the site and will inform future thinking on the management of the Clyde more generally.’’

MPAs like the one proposed for South Arran are designed to achieve more sustainable management of our seas, including sustainable commercial fishing, as well as creating opportunities for recreational users such as sailors, divers, kayakers and sea anglers. In places like New Zealand, they have proved a real source of local economic development.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on proposed MPAs runs until 13th November 2013. Those interested in supporting the case for a South Arran MPA with a written submission will find more information at

Life Returns to Lamlash Bay

The Arran Seabed Trust have made a short film featuring underwater footage showing the recovering seabed after 5 years of protection within the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone.

Source: COAST Press Release, September 2013

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