Success for Help our Kelp welcomed by Adur & Worthing Councils

Released: Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Plans to limit trawling off the coast which will boost marine wildlife and help combat climate change have been welcomed by leaders in Adur and Worthing.

The Nearshore Trawling Byelaw introduced by Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Sussex IFCA) was this week approved by the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Rt. Hon. George Eustice.

It means that more than 300 square kilometres of seabed off the Sussex coast will now be protected from trawling - a measure which should allow essential habitats, such as kelp forests, to regenerate.

Once established, the ecosystem is expected to support sustainable inshore fishing with species such as bass, sole, black sea bream, lobsters and cuttlefish, thriving in the conditions.

Coastal kelp beds also help combat climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy and provide a haven for wildlife.

Adur & Worthing Councils, which supported the Sussex Wildlife Trust's 'Help Our Kelp' campaign, welcomed the move and acknowledged it was a great example of how communities can work together to respond to the climate crisis.

Cllr Emma Evans, Adur District Council's Executive Member for Environment, said:

“I'm delighted ministers have listened to the thousands of people who supported this trawler ban and the Help our Kelp campaign.

“On paper, it may not seem much - but the restrictions will, over time, allow the rejuvenation of the kelp forests which will mean we have a more environmentally and economically vibrant coastline for generations to come.”

Cllr Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services, said:

“As a Council we have made no secret of our ambition to respond creatively and collectively to the climate crisis and I am really pleased to see the progress that both we, as an organisation, and our communities are making.

“This campaign is a fantastic example of how by working together residents, charities, politicians and researchers can make a positive difference. I look forward to working with Sussex IFCA, Sussex Wildlife Trust and many more groups on how we can support this moving forward.”

The adoption of the byelaw by ministers comes a year after Sussex IFCA proposed the restriction.

The new fisheries management measures are specifically intended to help safeguard the habitats that will ensure sustainable inshore fisheries into the future. Those areas protected include a large area extending 4km seaward between Shoreham-by-Sea and Selsey Bill.

Historically, until the late 1980s this area held extensive, dense kelp beds that supported abundant marine life. The kelp is now largely absent, so the ecology of the area is significantly diminished compared with the recent past.

Sussex IFCA said it will be working with partners and the community to raise awareness of the importance of marine habitat protection and its links to sustainable fisheries.

Dr Sean Ashworth, Deputy Chief Fisheries & Conservation Officer for the Authority, said:

“We are delighted that the local community and central government have recognised the critical importance of looking after Sussex marine wildlife and the local fisheries that critically depend upon it. We look forward to seeing a regeneration of the lost kelp forests and an associated improvement of the inshore fishery. The result is a testament to local management involving all stakeholders.”

Henri Brocklebank, Chair of the Help Our Kelp partnership and Director of Conservation at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said:

“The support of Sussex communities and our elected representatives has been inspirational. It shows us the passion that exists for restoring our marine ecosystems and recognising the value that they give to all of us, from food to the protection of our coastline.

“Numerous marine stakeholders, from local businesses to international environmental charities have directly contacted Defra and the Secretary of State. The rewilding of the Sussex kelp forests has galvanised local and national campaigners.”

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Photo: Underwater kelp forests could develop off the Sussex coast thanks to a new nearshore trawler ban (credit Sussex IFCA)

PR21-042 - Underwater kelp forests could develop off Sussex coast thanks to a nearshore trawler ban (credit Sussex IFCA)

(PR21-042)

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Page last updated: 09 April 2021