A study of the socio-economic and ecological feasibility of a proposed no take zone around the Scylla reef in Whitsand bay.

Coleman, Louisa
University of Plymouth, Msc Thesis

Factors affecting the socio-economic and ecological feasibility of a proposed no-take zone (NTZ) in Whitsand Bay (around the UK’s first artificial diving reef) were studied to determine if the area is suitable for protection. A comprehensive survey of recreational divers was carried out, to establish their opinions and support for the proposed NTZ, and two stakeholder groups (local dive charter boats and local seaangling charter boats) were also surveyed to gauge the level of support for protection of the study site. Existing survey data was examined and compiled in order to create a list of all species found in the study area (including those of rare or vulnerable status). The life histories of the commercially and recreationally important species were established. The life histories data was used to evaluate which species present would benefit from full protection. The area was found to have habitats representative of Cornish inshore waters, and to contain species that would benefit from protection, including vulnerable species, and species that use the site as a breeding or nursery ground. Recreational divers were found to be in favour of the proposed NTZ and the majority of respondents indicated that the establishment of such a reserve would make them more likely to visit the dive sites within it. Overall, charter boat operations were also in favour of the NTZ, but there were poor response levels of one stakeholder group. The area was found to meet many criteria that would make it a suitable site for a NTZ, however the presence of a dredge disposal area and the potential adverse impact of over-use by divers were identified as factors that make the site less suitable for protection. A statutory trial NTZ was suggested, if a list of recommendations were first met.


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