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Lyme Bay, Lane’s Ground Reef: sponge species recovery and opportunities lost

Lane's Ground Reef, a circalittoral boulder reef rich in sponges and ascidians, within Lyme Bay Closed Area, Lyme Bay, southwest England. Colin Munro Photography

Our three year monitoring, funded by Natural England as part of the study to look at whether the reef habitats recovered following cessation of scallop dredging, centred around Lane’s Ground Reef. One reason being it was one of the hardest hit of all vulnerable reefs within Lyme Bay but was also one where the basic reef structure (small boulders on mixed sand and gravel) remained intact, thus the potential for recovery was there. Another reason was that Lane’s Ground Reef, of all the reefs in Lyme Bay, was the one reef highlighted as previously supporting particularly rich sponges assemblages and that these rich sponge assemblages were, probably more than any other feature, what made the reefs of such high conservation importance,

Lyme Bay, what makes it special?

Lyme Bay, what makes it special?

I will look soon at the actual monitoring that has taken place since the closed area came in to being in 2008, but before doing so it is probably worth devoting a couple of blogs to describe why Lyme Bay is important and worth protecting; just what makes it special.

Lyme Bay Closed Area, a Marine Protected Area success? Part 2.

Lyme Bay Closed Area, a Marine Protected Area success? Part 2.

The Devon Wildlife Trust had been working hard with local fishermen since the early 1990s, and voluntary agreements had been set up voluntary agreements whereby trawlers and scallop dredgers would not work in the most fragile reef habitats. However, it was clear that the situation in Lyme bay was continuing to deteriorate. Fortunately major changes to rectify this were also happening. Following a lengthy consultation process, with proposals submitted by the Natural England, Conservation NGOs (in particular the Wildlife Trusts) and the fishing industry, DEFRA announced that an area of some 60 square nautical miles in the central part of Lyme Bay was to be closed to mobile fishing gear by Statutory Order.