Fish boat heading out to sea Hastings Sue Ranger

The coast and seas of Sussex are home to an incredible array of underwater landscapes and marine life. Through various projects we're working to protect and recover these vital ecosystems.

Help Our Kelp

The Sussex coast was once home to a vast kelp forest that supported a huge array of marine life and sustainable local employment. Kelp forests are one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet. Unfortunately, due to human impacts, there isn't much left. We're working together with Sussex Wildlife Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and Big Wave Productions to support the byelaws that protect kelp in Sussex.

We're thrilled that Sir David Attenborough lent his support to the Help Our Kelp campaign and narrated a film about the plight of kelp in Sussex.

The Help Our Kelp project is working to support the success of the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority Nearshore Trawling byelaw and the restoration of kelp to Sussex seas. We're supporting Help Our Kelp in lots of ways, including our national coordination of Seasearch and our Agents of Change programme, funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Wild Coast Sussex

Interview for Wild Coast Sussex CVM. Amdeep Sanghera.

A Community Voice Method interview on the beach

Credit: Amdeep Sanghera

Wild Coast Sussex is a partnership project, led by Sussex Wildlife Trust, targeting communities all along the Sussex coast, with extra focus at Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing and Selsey. Partners include Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), Brighton Sealife and us at the Marine Conservation Society.

Through Wild Coast Sussex we want to inspire Sussex locals to care for and protect their coast and sea. We're working with 16-25 year olds, whilst other project partners will be working with under 16s and commercial fishers as well as the wider community to take them on a positive journey, helping everyone to make a difference to the health of their local sea.

We're working to ensure all our project events and communications are bespoke for young people. As part of the project’s development period we interviewed over 35 young people in Sussex to discuss their values associated with the sea.

We'll be delivering events for young people along the Sussex coast, if you want to know more, contact Alice Tebb: [email protected].

Wild Coast Sussex is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

Beachy Head East Marine Conservation Zone

Hastings pier, Sussex. Georgie Scott.

A view of Beachy Head East MCZ from Hastings Pier

Credit: Georgie Scott

Working alongside the local community, including fishers, Agents of Change launched a local campaign: Backing Beachy Head East. We connected supportive local people to local decision makers, including MPs, Defra and Sussex IFCA.

Happily, it was announced in May 2019 that Beachy Head East MCZ was a designated site - a real triumph for locals including local fishers who had championed the extra protections for the area since 2009.

Looking forward, Agents of Change is looking to support positive conversation around management of the site in a way that actively includes the participation of people across the local community.

Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone

In 2017 the Agents of Change project started working with the local community at Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). Kingmere MCZ, designated in 2013, was the first conservation area to manage recreational angling in the UK. As such, many other Marine Conservation Zones around the UK view it as a blueprint for similar management measures.

At Kingmere MCZ, there is also aggregate extraction occurring legally within the site. This dichotomy of management systems is especially felt by local community members who know of the existence of the MCZ, the presence of aggregate extraction and the management on recreational angling.

Agents of Change is working to increase community interest in their local MCZ by increasing its presence in local towns, including signage along the seafront and information for locals and visitors about the site.

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