Two warships will be sunk to build a dive site and an artificial reef sanctuary for lobsters off the coast of Weymouth.
Weymouth and Portland Wreck to Reef successfully got permission from the Marine Management Organisation to sink ships in a 1km square area of sea.
Project co-ordinator Neville Copperthwaite said: “The dive industry is experiencing a decline during the economic downturn. We expect this project could improve the local dive industry and dive business.”
The artificial reef was not originally included in the project. It was initiated by Wreck to Reef, who after hearing suggestions from the Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority, decided to build the sanctuary to improve the marine industry.
Mr Copperthwaite said: “The idea is not to catch these lobsters, but to let them grow and wander off into the wider environment to breed. We want to readdress the balance.”
The five-year project has received £150,000 EU funding and Wreck to Reef is expecting to get a further £20,000 from the Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority to support the lobster sanctuary.
When asked whether the project would affect the coastal environment, Mr Copperthwaite said they would be very careful in the selection of the site. He said: “We will work with Southampton University’s Oceanography Department and they will also help us to design the reef.”
1,750 tonnes of stone has been placed off the coast of Weymouth and Portland near Ringstead Bay in preparation for the start of building work. 6,000 lobsters will be released in the first year after the opening of the sanctuary.
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