According to English Nature, the 3.3sq km zone, just east of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, has shown a big increase in numbers of lobsters. Crabs and other creatures are also appearing more plentiful.

For the second year now the results look very promising, said Chris Davis, Maritime Conservation Officer for English Nature. This adds to our knowledge of what no-take zones in the UK can achieve.

Its very exciting for us because, although we will have to wait several years to see the whole picture, the results so far have exceeded expectations.

Dr Miles Hoskin of Coastal and Marine Environment Research, who leads the monitoring programme, said: Our results show a very clear signal that lobsters in the NTZ are recovering from the effects of fishing.

After only 18 months we found three times more lobsters of landable size in the NTZ compared to fished areas. This difference was highly significant. At the time, some argued that this was just a flash in the pan - but we found the same result again this year, which strongly suggests that this is not the case.

Sponges and soft corals are also being assessed, but any firm changes in patterns will take longer to identity.

Hinting that more no-take zones could be allowed for under the Governments forthcoming Marine Bill, Ben Bradshaw, Marine and Fisheries Minister, said: The Lundy Island No-Take Zone has been a resounding success. The number and size of crab and lobster both inside and, more importantly, outside the closed area has grown significantly.

My view has always been that closed areas can play an important part in the future of our marine environment management. We shall continue to explore the environment and fish stock benefits of creating a network of similar areas.

Related links
Top dive site at Lundy shows success of No Take Zone
Lundy proposed as first UK No Take Zone
Lundy Island website
English Nature website
The National Trust - Lundy