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,
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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.