Sussex Kelp Anniversary

, 21 March 2022
Sussex Kelp Anniversary
Kelp © Steve Allnutt

By Sally Ashby

Sussex Kelp Lead

Happy Kelpiversary!

That’s right, it has been a year since bottom-towed trawling was excluded from over 300km2 of our beloved Sussex shores. Thanks to the incredible work of the Sussex IFCA and the Help Our Kelp campaign the Sussex seabed has a chance to recover from the impact of bottom-towed trawling to support thriving fisheries and critical habitats such as kelp forests.

The Sussex Kelp Restoration Project (SKRP) leads the work bringing scientists and communities together to ensure the Sussex seabed can recover, restoring nature for climate, community and biodiversity. Over the past year the SKRP has embarked upon a programme of cutting edge research utilising modern technology from underwater drones to eDNA analysis. Mapping and monitoring the seabed at multiple scales from satellite images down to genetic sampling of kelp species with the expertise of Zoological Society London. This research has been highlighted in the incredible Kelp Science film by Big Wave TV.

In the current climate crisis there is an urgent need for nature-based solutions at scale and the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project is pioneering important research into the role of Sussex kelp in the blue carbon cycle. With a greater understanding of the role of kelp in carbon sequestration we can ensure better protection of blue carbon stores and mitigation. Adur & Worthing Councils held a climate assembly that highlighted the overwhelming support for the Kelp Restoration Project and climate change is at the heart of our decision-making process.

The University of Brighton are leading our blue carbon research and have been diving deep to take sediment cores to find out how much kelp carbon is locked away in the seabed off the Sussex coast.

The associated wildlife and biodiversity that kelp supports is also critical to protecting and maintaining our blue carbon ecosystems. The University of Sussex and Blue Marine Foundation are leading our research into the biodiversity assessments, monitoring mobile benthic species using Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVS) and conducting eDNA analysis. As the kelp restores we hope to see many more creatures in our Sussex seas.

Alongside the amazing research and monitoring, a dedicated and ever-growing community of kelp supporters has mobilised to support the restoration of the kelp beds, many inspired by the grass-roots (or rather kelp-holdfast) team Sussex Underwater.

Combining citizen science and campaigns for cleaner and clearer waters, the Sussex marine communities are coming together to protect the Sussex seas for future generations. This commitment and support was clearly demonstrated at our first ever Kelp Summit held in Shoreham in November 2021

The SKRP will continue its work in 2022 to champion, study and facilitate the restoration of Sussex kelp to support a thriving, resilient and sustainable marine ecosystem. The ban on trawling in the SKRP area makes this a hugely important precedent as it is certainly the first UK fisheries closure to be premised largely on the basis of the ecosystem services that restored marine habitats can provide. Kelp provides so many benefits to society not least in terms of storing carbon but also importantly, fish nursery habitat, sea defence, supporting the whole marine food web and a healthy marine ecosystem for all to enjoy and be proud of. Thank you for your ongoing support for this project and we look forward to updating you on more exciting research to come.

In summary, it’s been an incredible year for Sussex Seas – passion, enthusiasm and science have come together for the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project and we look forward to the coming year of activity.

As a sneak preview here are members of our team from Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sussex IFCA deploying acoustic receivers that will detect tagged fish as part of a project known as Fish Intel that the SKRP is supporting.

The big question being: will fish use the area more frequently when the Kelp starts to restore?

Judging by this photo of new kelp growth in Sussex the answer will be yes.

Stay tuned to find out more…

  • If you would like to become a citizen scientist please do sign up to our Kelp Recording Scheme
  • If you would like to know more about what we are doing to address sedimentation and water quality issues please visit our sedimentation page
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Comments

  • Shirley Murrell:

    Very interesting and I would like to receive more information of this as progress is made.

    25 Mar 2022 08:58:00

  • Inge Roberts:

    Wow that’s wonderful news and fabulous campaigning work. Thanks to all of those involved.

    11 Apr 2022 17:05:00