Sea-Scope has been closely involved with the establishment of the smallest No Take Zone on the planet (3.3 km2, off the east coast of the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel, UK), as well as what has now become one of the largest (836,108 km2, around the four islands of the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific).
Robert Irving has been Secretary of the Lundy Marine Protected Area (MPA) Advisory Group for the past 25 years and represents this Group on the Lundy Management Forum. He has recently co-authored a book about the history of the island’s marine nature reserve. Lundy’s No Take Zone (NTZ) – which covers about 20% of the MPA – was the first such statutory NTZ in the UK when it was established in 2003. Since then, monitoring studies have shown the NTZ’s commercially important crustacean species (common lobster and brown/edible crab) have increased considerably both in numbers and in size.
Robert has been involved with studying the marine life of the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific since he visited the islands in 1991 as part of the Sir Peter Scott Commemorative Expedition to the Pitcairn Islands. This 15 month-long, Cambridge University-led expedition focussed on investigating the biodiversity of the largest of the four islands, Henderson, about which very little was known at the time. Robert’s contribution, together with his fellow-diver Jo Jamieson, was to carry out the first survey of near-shore biotopes, invertebrates and reef fishes of the island.
In 2012, Robert was commissioned by the Pew Environment Trust to write a report on all that was known of the marine environment around the islands. This report has formed a major part of Pew’s campaign to establish a vast Highly Protected Marine Reserve (HPMR) which will extend to the edge of the 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone around the islands. In 2013, Sea-Scope was successful in winning a joint Darwin Initiative 3-year bid to develop a sustainable marine and fisheries management plan for the Pitcairn Islands, together with the University of Dundee and the Zoological Society of London. As part of this project, he has made visits to the island in June & December 2014, with a further visit in September 2015. A description of his June 2014 visit can be read here.
Robert was a founder member of the Pitcairn Environment Group (in 2013), which meets 2-3 times per year in London. It acts as a forum for all NGOs and individuals which have an interest in the natural history and conservation of the Pitcairn Islands.