Shortly after the implementation of a marine protected area (MPA) in Lyme Bay in 2008, inside which scallop dredging and bottom trawling is prohibited, a socio-economic impact assessment was initiated. This article presents the initial findings from this study. The aim was to understand the costs and benefits to fishermen and fish merchants of establishing the MPA. These were assessed using a combination of primary and secondary data. The results indicate that the impacts of the closure differ according to the gear type and the fishing location used by the fishermen. Static gear fishermen who fish inside the closed area have seen changes in terms of increased fishing effort, mostly because they have been able to increase the number of crab and whelk pots they deploy. The effects of the closure on static gear fishermen who fish outside the closed area has been reported in terms of increased conflicts with towed gear fishermen who now fish regularly in their traditional grounds. Fishermen using towed gear on the other hand have been impacted through displacement effects as they have been forced to look for other fishing grounds outside the closed area. Most fish merchants and processors initially claimed that they were heavily impacted by the closure but when they were interviewed 1 year after the closure they suggested a more stable picture. Preliminary analyses of landings data indicate that the introduction of the MPA has so far had minimal impacts on the average incomes and financial profits of fishermen and fish merchants. This conclusion, however, reflects a short-term view as the impacts of the closure of Lyme Bay are likely to be felt for a long time to come.
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Vol. 40 • No. 5