Spiny Seahorse in Seagrass Georgie Bull

Beneath the waves the Eddystone reef falls victim to damaging human activity. We've been working to protect this incredible landscape.

Lying about 20 kilometres south of Plymouth, Eddystone lighthouse sits on the border of our territorial seas. The Eddystone reef is made up of a mountain range of dramatic pinnacles rising up from 50 metres deep to within 15 metres of the surface. But it was around these pinnacles that scallop dredging and seabed trawling was happening, without controls, up until 2014.

After pressure from us between 2010 and 2013, the local fisheries enforcement group - the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority - put in measures to stop bottom trawling scraping the seabed around the pinnacles themselves. We wrote about this in a 2020 publication.

We embarked on a 7 year mission to assess the damage and response of the seabed to controlling this type of fishing and found that the species on the seabed, such as cup corals, sponges, bryozoans and hydroids were doing better in the protected parts of the Marine Protected Area.  We collaborated with both the local fisheries science team, and the University of Exeter to record results.

The funding and support for this project came from the PigShed Trust, and from Princess Yachts, the largest employer in Plymouth who have supported our seagrass and Eddystone monitoring since 2015.

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