A new Nearshore Trawling byelaw closing fishing grounds off part of the coast of Sussex in southern England has been approved by Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs George Eustice.
Fishing with trawl gear is now prohibited throughout the year over large areas along the entire Sussex coast closest to the shore.
According to Sussex IFCA, the new measures allow essential habitats, such as kelp forests, to regenerate.
‘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 4 kilometres seaward between Shoreham-by-Sea and Selsey Bill,’ The IFCA states.
Until the late 1980’s this area had extensive, dense kelp beds that supported abundant marine life, including important commercial fish and shellfish species such as bass, sole, black sea bream, lobsters and cuttlefish. According to the IFCA, the kelp is now largely absent, significantly diminishing the ecology of the area compared with the recent past.
The new trawling restrictions will also encompass the Marine Conservation Zone known as Selsey Bill & the Hounds.
‘The Authority has spent several years carefully working toward the introduction of this important new management measure,’ said Chief Fisheries & Conservation Officer Tim Dapling.
‘There has been great interest and support within Sussex and the wider marine community regarding our work to both protect the marine environment and promote sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries. This is a key step toward more sustainable fisheries and delivery of positive outcomes for all. Future work will include assessing habitat recovery, biological productivity and benefits to the inshore fishing community.’
Coastal kelp beds help counteract climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce coastal erosion by absorbing wave energy and provide a haven for wildlife.
‘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,’ said Deputy Chief Fisheries & Conservation Officer Dr Sean Ashworth.
‘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.’