Scientists discovered a “much higher” abundance of commercially important juvenile scallops inside Lamlash Bay over three years. The size and reproductive capacity of adult scallops was also found to be much higher, according to scientists from the University of York.
Dr Leigh Howarth, who conducted the research in the environment department at York, said: “We found strong evidence that protecting Lamlash Bay from fishing has allowed seaweeds, hydroids and other organisms on the seafloor to recover.
“These animals act as a magnet for settling juvenile scallops which seek out these habitats for shelter and to mature to adulthood. Our study shows that protecting some areas from fishing activity can benefit both conservation and fisheries.”
The Lamlash Bay marine reserve was created in 2008, following a decade-long campaign by the local Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast) and was achieved despite aggressive lobbying by mobile scallop dredging interests.
The Scottish government has recently declared networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the coasts and are currently deciding on how to manage them, however, there are concerns that the preferred option is to do little to actually restrict destructive forms of commercial fishing within these MPAs as was particularly evidenced by Marine Scotland’s preferred management option for the Luce Bay SAC.