The Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) off the coast of south west England was designated in 1987 to help protect and enhance the rich and varied marine life of this internationally important site. The Helford VMCA aims to encourage people to become more involved with the marine environment and to work together to conserve it.
There are a number of statutory designations (Site of special scientific interest and Area of outstanding natural beauty) covering the habitats of the Helford and which is now recognized as one of the best sites in Europe for marine wildlife. These shores are of particular interest for the fantastic worm populations, including delicate tubeworms and peacock worms (Sabella pavonina). Peacock worms can be seen in shallow water spreading their fan-like tentacles to catch food. This habitat is also home to sea slugs, razor shells, marine worms, Couch’s goby, cuckoo wrasse, pipefish, conger eels, bass, lobsters, crabs, mussels, and the common cockle (Cerastoderma edule). Many people with a direct interest in the river including sailors, landowners, fishermen, councilors, students and marine biologists, and representatives of various organizations, both statutory and non-statutory, work together locally throughout the year to promote the sustainable use of this sensitive area.
The Helford Marine Conservation Group (HMCG) organizes a wide range of public events throughout the year which highlight the marine life and watery wonders of the Helford River to raise awareness of the importance of healthy marine biodiversity. The programme offers a wide range of activities, from seashore exploration and special marine talks to bird-watching walks and a conservation cruise. All these activities help to show the watery wonders and mysterious marine world of the Helford River. There is something for all ages, abilities and interests and it is open for everyone.
The HMCG Group has developed respect and achieved success in its educational roles to a wide audiences through this programme. This programme has also raised awareness of the sensitivity of the Helford and the marine environment in a wider sense.
The HMCG Group has ensured the protection of young bass where fishing is restricted especially in estuaries because this is where the very young bass come for 2+ years to feed due to the warm water and the good food supply found there before they return to the sea.
Volunteers from the HMCG Group have also been involved with recording the presence and growth of bass juveniles over a number of years.
A variety of other reports and studies are available at http://helfordmarineconservation.co.uk/publications/reports/