After spending a lot of time looking at No Take Zone (NTZ) both locally and in New Zealand I believe that the Mewstone off the coast of Wembury South Hams would be a perfect location as a NTZ.  


Evidence suggests that NTZ can be used as part of a suite of measures to conserve fish stocks, marine biodiversity and the livelihoods of those in the fishing industry. NTZ are in areas closed to extractive uses, including fishing and mineral extraction.

  •  NTZ represents a mechanism for fisherman to be part of local fisheries management,and hopefully, improve the long-tem viability of their   industry.
  •  In an uncertain industry, NTZ can provide insurance against management failures and stock collapses.
  • NTZ allow fish to grow bigger and more numerous in and around the NTZ, and  enhance catches close to reserves due to ‘spill over’ of adults into the adjacent  fishing grounds.
  • NTZ can act as a nursery ground, with increased production of eggs and larvae and export of these to fishing grounds. Bigger fish have more babies (offspring).
  • NTZ can protect rare and vulnerable marine habitats and species and shift towards a more natural ecosystem, which can be enjoyed by future generations.
  • They are easier to enforce and inform compared with traditional fisheries management.
  • There can be spin off benefits for education, tourism, recreation and scientific research.

There is now a huge body of evidence from overseas demonstrating that NTZ can benefit fisheries and conservation. In the famous Leigh Marine Reserve in New Zealand, Lobster densities have continually increased by about 7% per year in the NTZ since it was designated in 1977. By 1993 lobster densities were eight time higher than populations outside the reserve. In Tonga Island Marine Reserve, scientists have found nearly 4 times as many spiny lobsters than nearby fished sites. So far this approach has not been tested in the UK waters.

There is considerable interest and support for NTZ in the fishing communities. In 1995 and 1999 Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee questionnaires, of those shellfish permit holders who responded, between 69-73% were in principle in favor of NTZ


Being a person who very much enjoys freediving and spearfishing and who also very actively supports conservation and sustainable fishing I see things from two different angles, and understand some critical things are needed to make a NTZ do what it is suppose to do and not just be good PR and a self pat on the back.

First the location must be an area large enough to sustain enough life throughout the food chain in order for all types of fish and shell fish to be able to grow and flourish to an age of at least one reproductive cycle without migrating outside the NTZ.

The area must be small enough and distinct enough that there can no confusion to anglers, shell fisherman, spear fisherman, commercial fishing vessels, scuba divers and snorkellers where the NTZ starts and where it ends. It must be very clear with the use of signs on the Mewstone and buoys in the sea, whether one is inside or outside the NTZ . This will help every one and eliminate many potential conflicts and grey areas. The small distinct area will also help information, education and marketing.

  • Information and co-operation are two very important factors. The area chosen for the NTZ must be an area that has a good chance of getting all parties to volunteer not to catch from. If the area is too large it will be very difficult to get all parties to agree not to take from the designated area. The Mewstone is a very distinctive landmark and is very easily recognizable once seen on information sheets, education and marketing material.
  • Education and feedback are both very important and also much sought after and appreciated. The area chosen for the NTZ needs be to be very easy to access all year round for data collection. Experimental potting to compare Catch per unit effort between the NTZ area and normally fished areas also. Tagging to estimate spillover affects into nearby areas. The work will be carried out by myself and volunteers including a large network of local divers and snorkellers. This research and the results will be fed back to all participating parties and to the general public and local media. The Mewstone is in a perfect safe location for scuba diving and snorkeling. With some beautiful shallow gullies, minimal tides and at least two sides sheltered from the weather at any one time it is not only ideal for divers but also children and teenagers.
    • Participation and enjoyment of the project, once things are up and running and established, should be for one and all. Unlike the sinking of the HMS Scylla in Whitsands Bay, you will not have to be a hard-core diver travelling miles by boat or be able to scuba dive to enjoy or participate in the Project.
  • It is our Hope that the Mewstone NTZ could bring a chance for inner City children, under privileged children and disabled people to participate in some monitoring activities and simply be able to see and enjoy the great underwater marine life off the coast of Devon.

Monitoring and assessing the results.

We will create a grid system within the NTZ the over-spill area and the migration area. There will be five 30m by 30m squares marked A, B, C, and D within the NTZ. Two 30m by 30m squares within the over-spill area’s marked 1 and 2. And two 30m by 30m squares within the migration area’s marked 3 and 4.

Each area will have a baseline day zero survey carried out by local volunteer divers, dive clubs and local universities, as well as experimental potting to compare catch per unit   in each of the eight areas. The same survey will then be carried out every six months and the results posted on as well as being available in print. On the completion of each survey results a time and place will be set to hold an informed debate about the results of the NTZ and its effectiveness in inshore fisheries management.

I am not a scientist nor do I have any formal education in marine biology,  but I a man who cares a lot about what we leave our children and a man who gets things done.

Howard Jones .

On the 1st April 2005 Plymouth Sound & Estuaries which includes the Mewstone became a Special Area of Conservation (SACs). This does not make the area a NTZ there is still plenty of potting, fishing ,spearfishing and diver collection going on within this whole area.


Volunteer 1 Nick Fradon Engineer/spearfisherman.

Volunteer 2 Philip Midgley Honours Degree Aquaculture

Volunteer 3 Mike Ellicott Underwater photographer.

Volunteer 4 Ray Ives Commercial Diver/retired.

Volunteer 5 Chris Bird Diver/spearfisherman.

Volunteer 6 Hugh Miller Marine and coastal management degree, Marine Biology  Masters degree.

Volunteer 7 Spence Pearson Builder/surfer.

Volunteer 8 Dan Bolt Diver/web master.

Volunteer 9 Scott Gleed Diver/designer,model maker

Volunteer 10 Dave Peak Underwater Photographer/diver/spearfisherman