In 2008, Scotland's first marine No-Take Zone to be protected from all fishing was established in Lamlash Bay, off the Isle of Arran. The Scottish Marine Act has set forth a path for the creation of a national network of marine protected areas. How effective the Lamlash Bay No-Take Zone is at promoting the recovery of marine life is therefore of enormous importance and interest both to Scotland and further afield. Through my research, we are beginning to understand the rate, trajectory and nature of recovery of sea life following the cessation of fishing, which is helping further guide policy.
I have worked on the Isle of Arran for the past four years and am now in the final stage of my research. Monitoring Lamlash Bay has involved a number of different survey techniques including, pot sampling, photo quadrats, baited underwater video cameras and diver surveys. These different methodologies have helped me to explore the changes in ecosystem, community, and population structure between areas inside and outside the No-Take Zone.
In addition, my research has also documented the global transformation underway in the ocean at present - from complex ecosystems supporting a range of species, to more simplified ones becoming increasingly dominated by invertebrates. Moreover, it explores why, even though these growing invertebrate fisheries are highly valuable, that such simplification is extremely risky and leaves the fishing industry open to economic catastrophe in future. In a simplified state our oceans will be much less able to continue to function effectively in the face of climate change and escalating human pressures.