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There are currently four permanent team members, two of whom are full time. Three are professionally qualified marine biologists and all hold professional diving qualifications. The team is occasionally supplemented by other CCW marine staff and volunteers.
Phil Newman (below left) joined the team as Assistant Skomer Marine Conservation Officer when staff were first recruited to the newly designated MNR in 1991. He became the SMNR Officer in 1998. In his former life Phil was involved in fish farming in North Wales and Ecuador, research into the effects of TBT anti-fouling and crewing charter yachts in the Mediterranean.
Kate Lock (below centre left) joined the team in 1996, at first as a seasonal assistant, from teaching at nearby Dale Fort Field Centre. Before that Kate also had been involved in fish-farming and taught on the subject for two years during VSO in Thailand. She retains her dedication to education and encouraging others and is the main organiser of the MCZ’s volunteer projects and, having moved to part-time working in 2002, is now also Seasearch coordinator for SW Wales.
Mark Burton (below centre right) was also lured from Dale Fort. He joined the MNR in 2001. Before Dale Fort he spent a season with the Devon Wildlife Trust marine survey team, was a volunteer at New Zealand’s Leigh Marine Reserve for six months, and while at Dale Fort managed a working visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands.
The team was joined in 2011 by Jen Jones (above right), initially on a seasonal appointment, though her post was converted to permanent seasonal in 2014. Jen, a partner in West Wales Diving School for many years, brought with her a considerable and valuable expertise in sponge taxonomy and identification from her work with Bernard Picton at the Ulster Museum.
Former seasonal assistants have moved on to a range of different roles.
Rob Gibbs (2006 – 2010) was an exception to the marine biologist by training rule as he has a degree in astrophysics. His love of underwater videography brought him to marine biology and, via Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, to the MNR where his video skills and mathematical science training boosted the range of the team’s talents. He is now pursuing a PhD in physics.
Lou Luddington (2001 – 2005) is now a freelance marine biologist.
Sue Burton (1995) spent a season as the Milford Haven water ranger, and has been the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation Officer since 2000.
Liz Macedo (1993 – 94) moved to Australia and joined the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service with responsibility for whale conservation advice and monitoring for several years.
Former Skomer MNR Officer Blaise Bullimore took early retirement from CCW in 2006, was the Carmarthen Bay & Estuaries European Marine Site Officer until a second retirement in 2016, and continues in the role of project manager for the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group.
Sue and Blaise are both now Honorary Wardens and volunteer members of the MCZ dive team.
MCZ team consistency and constancy
The team structure changed considerably over the life of the MNR as the fortunes of CCW and the political climate varied. Re-designation to an MCZ brings new uncertainties. Although there is more than enough work to keep the permanent team very busy, there is a critical minimum number of people needed to field a safe and legal working diving team. On several occasions during the years following MNR designation, keeping the minimum team intact, or securing resources to employ seasonal assistants have been hard fought battles. The strength of opinion and support from the MNR/MCZ Advisory Committee at these times has been immensely valuable.
There has been increasing pressure over recent years for the MCZ team to undertake various tasks outside the site, especially supporting monitoring in the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation, within which, of course, Skomer MCZ lies. Although it is understandable that the skills and experience of the MCZ team, and the boats and equipment, are called on in this way, the Skomer MNR Allies believe that such off-Reserve work should not compromise the ability of the MCZ team to carry out all the work necessary in the Reserve.
The Skomer MNR Allies strongly endorses the Advisory Committee’s often stated view that the Reserve must remain fully staffed and that the staff’s priority should remain the MCZ.
Honorary Wardens and volunteers
- Government inquiry into management of marine protected areas in Wales
- European Union abandons plan to “overhaul” flagship Birds and Babitats Directives following a huge public campaign
- Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs makes “inaccurate and misleading claims” about the sustainability of Welsh seafood.
- Welsh Government dismiss objections to further scallop dredging in Cardigan Bay
- Consultation on proposed Special Areas of Conservation for harbour porpoise
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