Sussex hosts most species of coarse fish indigenous to the UK, including rarer fish such as the barbel, stone loach, grayling, bullhead and lamprey (river) - bullheads are an internationally threatened species. Native fish stocks in Sussex are struggling overall, and are one of the main reasons for many of Sussex rivers current failure to reach Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive. This is predominantly due to barriers to their migration and lack of habitat.
Inshore Sea Fish
Many fish and shellfish are commercially fished from the Sussex coast. These include sole, plaice, turbot, bass, lobster, edible crab, native oysters, whelk, cuttlefish, squid, red mullet, rays, brill, and spider crab. Limited information is available on the status of fish stocks but common skate, cod, mackerel and herring are all declining.
The sea trout is a migratory form of the brown trout, Salmo trutta. It breeds and spends its early life in freshwater, before migrating to the sea where the bulk of its growth occurs. Lowland rivers generally have limited sea trout populations. However in Sussex, rivers such as the Ouse appear to support reasonable and possibly unique populations.
In common with the global trend, Sussex eel stocks have fallen drastically (by over 90%). The Environment Agency are now coordinating a programme of measures to assist the recovery of this species in Sussex.