Saturday, 27 September 2008

Scotlands first No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay!

Last weekend, amidst the hecticness of the Outdoor Festival, something truly wonderful and magnificent happened here on Arran. After 14 years of compaigning, Arran won a No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay. Not only is this Scotland's first NTZ, but it is also the UKs first community led scheme. This will have lasting and positive effect on the island for generations to come, and is a giant step forward for marine conservation.

The No Take Zone will protect precious maerl beds from destructive scallop dredgers, and was the vision of three local guys, Howard Wood, Don McNeish and Tom Vella Boyle. Maerl is a pink calicified seaweed that grows very slowly and forms nurseries for commercially important species such as cod and scallops as well as amazing habitat for all sorts of wonderful plants and animals. Howard and Don are divers and noticed how the maerl beds were getting trashed by bottom dredging. They set up the Community Of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) to campaign for a No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay. It has taken many years, but at last the maerl in our bay is protected.
Today was the COAST AGM. AGMs can be very boring, but the room was full of extremely happy people and it was an emotional if low key occasion. Afterwards, Dr Sally Campbell took us down to the shore for a poke about under rocks and pools to see what could be turned up. We found plenty of shellfish, slippery rockfish and even a delicate brittle star. Pictured is an exquisitely beautiful prawn.
Sally also showed us some minute molluscs clinging to weed and rocks. These are the summers young mussels, winkles and whelks, spawned only this year, and after spending weeks floating on the currents, they have settled and found their homes in the tidal zone of our bay. It is expected, that by protecting the seabed here in Lamlash, similar spat from scallops, will be able to spread out into neighbouring areas of the Clyde.
For more information, please look at the COAST website:

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