Thank you to all those who voiced their support for last year's pioneering campaign to restore a vast underwater Kelp forest off the coast of Sussex. On 23rd January 2020, after an extensive consultation period, with overwhelming support drummed up the Help Our Kelp campaign, the introduction of a critical new byelaw was agreed by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority!
As well as the spawning grounds for many varieties of fish, Kelp provide habitat, shelter and food for many marine creatures from crustaceans and seahorses to seals and dolphins. They alter light levels, sedimentation rates and waterflow, improve water quality, prevent coastal erosion and per acre, kelp beds can take up to 20 times more C02 from the atmosphere than land-based forests.
Speaking last year, Sir David Attenborough, who lent his support to the campaign, described the loss of the kelp forest, which once stretched 40km from Selsey to Shoreham, and extended 4km into the sea, as a tragedy. "We've lost critical habitat that is key for nursery grounds, for water quality and for storing carbon", he said.
The new byelaw, which will see trawling excluded from a vast 304 km2 of coastline, to allow the Kelp beds to recover, has now been passed to Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State at Defra for approval before it can be implemented. The Help Our Kelp partnership (comprising the Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Big Wave Productions) are hoping that it will be signed off quickly, before another year of trawling damage.