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Tonnes of stone arrives at Weymouth ferry port for new reef project
TONNES of stones have arrived at Weymouth ferry port ready to be used in an ambitious reef project.
Around 1,750 tonnes of stone, delivered by 92 lorries, will be loaded onto a barge and will be laid to form a lobster nursery in a reef in Weymouth Bay.
The Wreck to Reef (W2R) team is behind the project, which is designed to attract more divers to the area.
Neville Copperthwaite, project co-ordinator, said: “It’s very exciting.
“It’s getting real after all of the hard work over the years.
“We have got 600 tonnes ready to take out on the barge in two loads on Monday.
“Then we’ll have the same for Tuesday and Wednesday.
“A total of 92 lorry-loads will form the start of the reef one mile south of Ringstead.”
It is hoped that baby lobsters placed at the new reef will be monitored by the Southern Sea Fisheries Committee, but a decision is yet to be made.
The project has been planned for three years.
Ian Carrier, chief fishery officer of the committee, said: “As part of the project, we have been considering stocking the reef with baby lobsters so we can get some research out of it.
“There is not a lot known about lobsters between when they are babies and four years old.
“Part of the reason for this is that they disappear and also because they tend to come out at night.
“We would like to do some sort of study but the committee is yet to make a final decision.
“Before we commit any money to this, we wanted to see a business plan and go through costing.
“It could possibly be done cheaper and those are the sort of conversations we have been having.
“We are supportive of the project and just wait to hear what the committee says.”
Mr Copperthwaite said: “We need to put this bed down now and let it mature for a year.
“We have now got permission to put two ships down in the reef.
“MPs Oliver Letwin and Richard Drax are helping us secure funding to put the first down after the Olympics.”
The lobsters, incubated and hatched in a Padstow hatchery, will be placed in the nursery at a later date.
It will take up to six years for them to grow from half an inch to a size suitable for sale. For the first four years, they will stay in a small ring of stone, away from predators.
During this time, a larger ring will be built around the first so that as the lobsters grow, they can move.
Mr Copperthwaite said this will be the first of four reefs in Weymouth Bay.
He said: “There will be a community reef.
“The idea is that anybody can come up with an idea and help us build it.”