A CONSERVATION project has put Lyme Bay on the map at a European award ceremony.

The Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve project, was the only UK finalist to get recognised at the EU-Natura 2000 awards held in Brussels.

Project officer Kate West and local Lyme Bay fisherman David Sales were ‘proud’ to attend the inaugural event on behalf of the local conservation work.

Not only did the project scoop a spot in the final of the ‘reconciling interests and perceptions’ category, it was the only marine project to get recognised.

A total of 22 global projects were chosen from across Europe in a variety of categories and five winners were announced.

The Lyme Bay project, which sadly missed out on the award, was set up by the BLUE Marine Foundation in 2012 with the aim to reconcile the needs of the environment and local fishing industry, establishing a new blueprint for sustainable conservation.

Kate added: “Sadly, we did not win our category but we think we should still all be hugely proud of what the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve project has achieved so far.

“I spoke to one of the judges. He gave us some great feedback and urged us to reapply next year and to go into a different category.

“Another panellist also said we were their favourite project. This is great to know and we can come back fighting next year.”

She added: “We hope that BLUE and the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve gets the recognition it deserves for its outstanding contribution to nature conservation, in developing an evolutionary model of self-management and motivating fishing communities to fish in more sustainable ways.”

Natura 2000 is a network of over 27,000 protected sites that covers 18 per cent of the EU landmass and 4 per cent of marine areas, protecting and enhancing Europe’s natural heritage.

A total of 163 applications from across Europe were received.

Cash boost

A £150,000 cash boost was recently granted to the BLUE Marine Foundation, who facilitate the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve.

It came from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and will be made up of £50k instalments across three years for the growth of the project.

The Foundation recognises the need for conservationists and fishermen to work together in Lyme Bay.

The idea was sparked by a government move to close a 90 sq mile area to scallop dredging and trawling, which should have led to the protection of what has been called ‘England’s coral garden’ – reefs extraordinarily rich in corals and sea fans. Despite the closure to mobile fishing gear the area continued to be over-fished by pots and nets.

In 2012, BLUE established the Lyme Bay Working Group to agree an overall management plan for the area.


SO far, the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve has achieved: 

  • Fishermen signing up to a code of conduct for the fishery.
  • The implementation of a number of research studies to inform best-practice management and the creation of a partnership with the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) to help build the sustainability, traceability and high quality of the catch.
  • Enhancement of storage and icing facilities.

BLUE’s main project outcomes include:

  • Improved protection of the marine reef structures and habitats.
  • Improved sustainability of the fishery.
  • Development of a model elsewhere the UK.