Sussex

Sussex trawler ban sought to help kelp forest revival

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Media captionThe kelp forests are one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet

A campaign to restore a large underwater kelp forest has been helped by an agreement to ban trawler fishing off the West Sussex coast.

A new bylaw will exclude trawling from a 117 sq mile (302 sq km) area, agreed by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

The kelp rewilding project seeks to recreate sea life habitats, an aim supported by Sir David Attenborough.

The bylaw will now go to the Environment Secretary for approval.

Forests of kelp once stretched along 25 miles (40km) of the West Sussex coastline from Selsey to Shoreham, and extended at least 2.5 miles (4km) seaward.

'Climate change and overfishing'

The kelp forest provided habitat, nursery and feeding grounds for seahorses, cuttlefish, lobster, sea bream and bass.

It also locked up huge quantities of carbon, improved water quality and reduced coastal erosion by absorbing the power of ocean waves, campaigners said.

They said kelp had been ripped from the seabed by dragging nets from trawling vessels.

The Help Our Kelp partnership, comprising the Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Big Wave Productions, said it wanted the bylaw to be signed off quickly before another year of trawler damage.

Charles Clover, executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation, said: "This is an initiative that tackles climate change and overfishing impacts all at once, the first of its kind in the UK.

"This is exactly what we need to be doing in marine habitats all over the world."

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