Thousands of visitors come to North Devon every year to experience the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Many take the opportunity to engage with the amazing array of marine life that can be seen both from the coastline and from on board local vessels.
North Devon skippers have long shown a keen interest in protecting the marine life which sustains their livelihoods. In recognition of this an accreditation scheme has been devised through collaboration between Lundy Island and North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The scheme has been funded by local councillors and the North Devon Coast AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) which is funded by DEFRA.
Beccy, the warden on Lundy, said, “I really wanted to thank local boat operators for their ongoing support of Lundy and its Marine Protected Area, and so the idea of a local accreditation scheme was created. The scheme has been developed with Kate and Andy at North Devon Biosphere to spread it across the North Devon coast.
“I’m so pleased with how the scheme has come together, and so grateful for all the hard work that Andy and Kate have put in. It’s great to see how engaged the local operators are with it.”
At the end of January, 15 local operators undertook training with Colin Speedie of the national WiSe accreditation scheme, along with additional training on the wildlife of the North Devon coast with Beccy and Kate. These operators are now proud to display both the local scheme badge alongside the national WiSe one. Stuart Carpenter runs the Hampshire Rose lifeboat trips in Ilfracombe and skippers for Andrew Bengey (Lundy Diving) on Obsession II. He said, “The crew and skipper of the Hampshire Rose are proud to be part of this scheme and to be able to work in partnership with Lundy and North Devon Biosphere. The accreditation scheme allows us to show that operators in North Devon are looking after our marine wildlife and as more join the scheme, we will see an improvement to wildlife safaris as a whole.”
In addition to the training, a leaflet has been developed to support the scheme. This includes a wildlife guide to the marine species of the North Devon coastline and will be available from all local tourist information centres and skippers.
Kate Hind, from North Devon Biosphere, said, “We now have a Marine Conservation Zone extending from Foreland Point to Bideford in addition to Lundy. Collectively these give a great opportunity to show an economic benefit to the tourism industry as well as protect our extraordinary marine wildlife.”
Terry Green, SDF Chairman, said, “The North Devon Coast AONB is pleased to have been able to support this project through the Sustainable Development Fund. The project has the twin virtues of enabling more people to gain a first-hand appreciation of the natural environment of the North Devon Coast, while minimising disturbance to the creatures that inhabit it, all of which contributes towards the sustainability which the Fund aims to promote.”
You’ll be able to spot those who are involved in the scheme through the accreditation badge that will be proudly displayed on their vessels, display boards, websites, etc. so please support them this summer. There are still opportunities for other skippers to get involved so please contact Beccy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Lundy www.lundyisland.co.uk Beccy MacDonald Tel: 01237 431831 ext.225 email@example.com.
North Devon Biosphere www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk
Contact: Kate Weld Tel: 01271 388650 Kate.firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: Stuart Carpenter and Andrew Bengey