Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) was set up in 1995 and covers just under 5km of coastline stretching from the Hore Stone, west of Looe to the Limmicks in the East and extends down to the 10 metre depth line. The area includes the tidal reaches of both the West Looe and East Looe rivers. It also encompasses Looe Island, which is owned and managed as a reserve by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
The Looe VMCA is an amazingly diverse area. It includes rocky shores, mud flats, sand and gravel shores and seagrass beds. The area provides important habitats for a vast range of plants and animals including grey seals, wading birds, fish, crabs and a colourful array of seaweeds.
In addition to the important biodiversity of the area, the natural environment of the Looe VMCA is of great cultural and economic importance. The beauty and interest of the shore and the opportunity to see seals attract many tourists. The rocky reefs provide spawning grounds and hiding places for commercially important species such as the edible crab and various fish species. The statue of ‘Nelson’ the one-eyed seal who lived around Looe harbour for many years stands in testimony to the importance the town places on its connection with the marine environment.
The VMCA does not exist to place restrictions on how the area is used, but to encourage people from all walks of life to learn more about our marine environment and to help us learn more about it. We believe that by engaging the whole community, we can inspire people to work together to conserve this amazing environment for the benefit of current and future generations.
We are currently awaiting a decision as to whether the proposed new Marine Conservation Zone in Looe Bay will go ahead. This area would include the current VMCA and stretch Eastwards to Whitsand Bay, ensuring that a much wider area of our very special environment receives protection. It is, as yet, unclear what exactly this designation would mean and how it would be implemented, but the existing VMCA would certainly play a very important role.