Projects & Research


Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum oversees and supports on-going projects and activities to deliver on it’s commitment to maintaining favourable status of the Plymouth Sound & Tamar Estuaries Marine Protected Area, from commissioning research and studies, to funding trials and implementing management measures.

The Tamar Estuaries Biosecurity Plan 

Published in 2018, the purpose of the Biosecurity Plan is to establish a guiding framework to reduce the risk of the introduction of new non-native species (NNS) to the Tamar Estuaries area and to effectively manage existing NNS including invasive non-native species (INNS). This will be achieved through the voluntary collaborative effort of all organisations and interested parties within the area. The Biosecurity Plan describes the marine biosecurity issues identified within the Tamar Estuaries area and presents actions that have been agreed with stakeholders, through a series of workshops,  for the prevention, early detection, control and mitigation of the introduction and spread of NNS.

The successful adoption of recommendations in the Biosecurity Plan is expected to bring about the following socio-economic and environmental benefits:

● Identifying the Tamar Estuaries area as an area which is proactively managed by its stakeholders to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity.

● The maintenance of the aesthetic character and utility of areas of the Tamar Estuaries.

● Ensuring NNS management in the Tamar Estuaries area follows national guidelines and is cost effective.

● The reduction of risk regarding the establishment and spread of NNS including slowing of the introduction of NNS to other parts of the UK via the Tamar Estuaries area acting as a potential ‘gateway’ for marine NNS into the UK.

● Enabling stakeholders to take ownership of the problem and its solutions.

View the Plymouth Sound & Tamar Estuaries Biosecurity Plan

View the Plymouth Sound & Tamar Estuaries Non-Native Species Guide

For more information about NNS & INNS in the MPA, visit the Protecting our Marine Environment page.

The Marine Recreational Impacts Project 

Phase one of the Marine Recreational Impacts Project was launched in April 2017, in order to meet statutory management commitments related to the Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA). Under the HRA, the four Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) bordering the Marine Protected Area (MPA) – Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council, West Devon Borough Council, Cornwall Council – are required to charge levies on new housing developments to fund management of the impacts of recreational activities on the MPA, which are expected to increase as a result of population growth.

As a popular destination for a wide range of water-based activities, including sailing, angling, diving, paddle sports and motor boating, the Plymouth Sound & Tamar Estuaries MPA is very susceptible to the impacts of recreational activity.

The main objectives of the project are:

● Develop and deliver strategies to mitigate impacts of high-risk recreational activities on the special features and species of the MPA.

● Conduct baseline studies and on-going monitoring to ensure management actions are effective.

● Raise awareness of the impacts of recreation on the MPA and improve education about how recreational users can minimise those impacts.

● Engage with water users and stakeholders to devise a strategy for sustainable management of the MPA.

View the EMS Recreation Study Document 01: A brief investigation into the possible interaction and sensitivity of priority species and habitats to recreational activity within the Tamar Estuaries Management Plan area. MBA. 2016.

View the EMS Recreation Study Document 02: Initial results from the spring season recreational visitor surveys across the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries European Marine Site. MBA 2016.

View the EMS Recreation Study Document 03. Survey of recreational use within the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries European Marine Site. MBA 2017.

View the EMS Recreation Study Document 04. Survey of recreational use within the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries European Marine Site: Scoping report and survey results. MBA 2017.

Eco-mooring Trial 

The Plymouth Sound is a very popular site for recreational boaters, but we also have important areas of subtidal seagrass that overlap with anchoring and mooring locations. Research has shown that the effects of anchoring and mooring can be devastating to seagrass beds as a result of scour from the chain and anchoring dragging up the seabed.

TECF contributed funding to install a trial eco-mooring solution developed by the Community Seagrass Initiative (CSI) as part of a wider trial in multiple locations in the South West. Installed in July 2016 in Cawsand Bay, CSI have conducted regular monitoring of the seagrass around the mooring to establish if the solution has helped to minimise the impacts of standard moorings and assess any improvements in habitat condition.


It is the responsibility of Natural England to formally monitor the condition of the Marine Protected Area and they report to Government on the state of all the designated marine sites every six years. However, in order to inform the on-going management of the waters, high quality research and monitoring are vital to help inform decision-making.

Crab Tiling Survey (2016/17)

The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) have a responsibility to manage sea fisheries resources under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MaCCA) which includes crab tiling. The Tamar Estuary falls within the jurisdiction of both Cornwall IFCA and Devon & Severn IFCA (D&S IFCA). Currently no statutory or voluntary measures have been implemented to restrict or regulate crab tiling on the Tamar Estuary.

Every four years, surveys are carried out to determine the number and location of crab tiles on the intertidal zone of the estuaries. The most recent surveys were conducted in 2016 (Devon & Severn) and 2017 (Cornwall. The surveys enable Cornwall and D&S IFCA to assess any potential impacts of crab tiling on sensitive estuary environments, and to inform the development of appropriate management.

View the Cornwall IFCA Crab Tiling Survey 2017

View the Devon & Severn IFCA Crab Tiling Survey 2016

Marine Recreation Survey (2016)

In 2016, Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum (TECF) commissioned the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) to conduct an assessment of recreational activities within the Plymouth Sound and Tamar Estuaries Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The project was delivered in two stages. Firstly, the scoping project aimed to determine which conservation features have possible interactions with recreational activity across the MPA, and the sensitivity of those features to the activity acting upon them. Secondly, a survey of the distribution and frequency of recreational activities in the MPA was conducted via on-site surveys, workshops and online surveys.

Among other things, the study is helping TECF to manage the impact of recreational activities on the MPA by identifying popular activities and how they overlap with protected features of the marine site. You can find out more about the Managing Marine Recreational Impacts Project on the Projects tab.

View the Marine Recreation Survey 2016

TECF Slipway Audit (2016)

Public slipways are very important as they allow access to tidal waters and vital to everyone who wishes to get on or in the water and even to simply be beside the tidal waters of Plymouth Sound and the Tamar Estuaries. This document provides a record of the key slipways and also audits the public slipways in terms of access, condition, usability and overall assessment.

TECF Slipway Audit 2016 Report
TECF Slipway Audit 2016 Appendix 1 Forms
TECF Slipway Audit 2016 Appendix 2 Maps
TECF Slipway Audit 2016 Appendix 3 Photographs


Response to Marine Conservation Zone Consultation (2013)

TECF occasionally submits responses on behalf of all the members to consultations which impact on the management of the estuary as a whole. This is the TECF response to the 2013 DEFRA consultation on Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ).

TECF response to MCZ Consultation 2013

Monitoring Workshop (2013)

On the 29 November 2013 over 30 people scientists and professionals attended a workshop held at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth in order to discuss how best to monitor the Marine Protected Area. The following documents all relate to the workshop.

Workshop agenda
Meeting notes – 29 November 2013
Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum (TECF) Management Plan and monitoring challenges – Kaja Curry (TECF)
Marine monitoring in Plymouth – Gavin Black (Natural England) – available on request
Management of Fisheries – Neal Gray (Marine Management Organisation)
Seasearch Plymouth EMS – Sally Sharrock (Seasearch)
Wetlands Birds Survey – Peter Reay (WeBS)
MBA Long term monitoring – Harvey Tyler-Walters (Marine Biological Association)
Plymouth Coastal Observatory – Emerald Siggory (Plymouth Coastal Observatory)
Plymouth University Marine Station – Alex Nimmo Smith (Plymouth University)


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