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Allonby locals split opinion over conservation zone

The unblemished view from Allonby Beach Photo: ITV Border

Allonby beach, near Maryport, is well know for it's scenic outlook over the Solway Firth. But this time, the interest is on what's beneath the waves.

Allonby has been labelled as a Marine Conservation Zone, making it 1 of 24 new zones across the UK. The zone covers a 9km stretch of coast and 40 square kilometres of Irish Sea.

Sea anemones at Maryport Aquarium, similar to the ones found in Allonby bay. Credit: ITV Border

The bay is home to a colourful variety of sea-life, in particular the honeycomb-worm reefs - which are tens of metres wide.

The reefs provide a habitat for mussels and anemones whilst the sea bed itself is home to sea squirt and sponge.

The zone will protect the vulnerable species that live in the sea here. At the moment, it doesn't have a management plan in place so that needs to happen.

A great species we have here is the honeycomb-worm which is very important as it creates a bio-genic reef that other species can make their home on. The zone here will protect that species and the habitat it creates."

– Kate Borrowdale, National Wildlife Trust
Allonby beach has always been a popular destination for dog-walkers. Credit: ITV Border

But there are mixed feelings among the community about the conservation zone.

Some worry about the limitations the zone will put on fishing and shrimping, whilst others don't understand why it needs protected in the first place.

It will protect the area for generations to come. But as far as we can see, there isn't any pressure on it. There isn't any pressure from fishing, there isn't any pressure from shipping. So the designation itself comes as a bit of a surprise."

– Allonby resident

It depends what restriction they put on. There's quite a few folk who go down shrimping and fishing. If they put a stop to that, it's something that's gone on here for hundreds of years."

– Allonby resident