By Dr Sean Ashworth
It is an interesting time here at Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority. After seeking views from the community and looking at all the evidence, Sussex IFCA is launching a public consultation on near shore trawling fisheries in the District. The consultation will run for four weeks ending on the 10th October 2019. The amazing kelp film made by Big Wave TV will help people understand what kelp forests mean to Sussex.
We are looking to protect key areas that are used by fish for migrating, feeding, breeding and as nursery grounds for their young. These essential fish habitats are vital for supporting long term sustainable fisheries and for wildlife. The proposals include a year-round prohibition along the Sussex coast 1km seaward from high water, with the prohibition area from Shoreham harbour entrance to Selsey Bill extending out to 4km.
One key aim of all this work is to allow the recovery of large areas of kelp forests that disappeared from Sussex during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Restoring the Sussex kelp forest will hugely benefit wildlife and fisheries with additional benefits of carbon storage, improved water quality and coastal protection. Fisherman have told us of how the kelp forests thrived in Sussex seas well within living memory, and we want to give it a chance to regrow, to rewild the sea. A change in management is always difficult, but we hope that the benefits to fishing communities, wildlife and climate emergency mitigation will far outweigh those difficulties.
Dr Sean Ashworth has worked to manage how people and environment interact in Sussex for twenty years. He was born and bred in Brighton and returned to Sussex after studying at Wolverhampton, Exeter and working around the world. He is Deputy Chief at Sussex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority, Chairman of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and Deputy Chair of the Living Coast Biosphere Reserve. Sean is passionate about helping people understand the value of the environment and making sure that the environment is part of day to day decision making.