By Tor Lawrence
The Sussex Wildlife Trust is celebrating Marine Week and is stepping up its support for marine wildlife all along the coast of Sussex.
Marine and coastal issues have never been more important at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, as 2020 sees us complete our long-awaited Rye Harbour Discovery Centre. This new facility will enable us to finally deliver more marine and coastal education at the spectacular Rye Harbour Nature Reserve (50 years old this year) and, with support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, we will help the thousands of visitors to the site each year enjoy this inspiring and changing landscape.
We have also, last week, launched Wild Coast Sussex. This ambitious three year project has also been made possible thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and our members. With partners, we will deliver a wonderful programme of activities, all along the Sussex coastline, to inspire Sussex communities to care for our amazing coast and marine environment.
After running many beach cleans along the Sussex Coast, we know that discarded fishing gear is a big concern on our beaches and in our seas. Wild Coast Sussex will enable us to work with the Sussex fishing community to establish a recycling system for Sussex end-of-life fishing gear, to keep it out of landfill, and, with the help of Sussex IFCA, bring large discarded nets, out of the sea.
Alongside this, we will continue to champion the rare and precious marine wildlife found locally, highlighting the extraordinary kelp forests, seahorses and rays once abundant in Sussex which could recover and thrive if given a second chance. We continue to campaign for the nearshore trawling Byelaw which we hope will soon trigger the restoration of the once-abundant Sussex Kelp Forests, and all the species it supports.
The stretch of Sussex Coast that I personally know best is the Heritage Coast, where I love to swim, kayak and walk. The chalk reefs along this stretch are protected as a Marine Protection Zone and are nursery grounds for all kinds of fish and marine life, including the very rare Short-snouted Seahorse. I have grown up visiting these beaches and taking my son there in turn. It is more important than ever that we all play our part in looking after this precious place and supporting wildlife to thrive.