The pioneering campaign to restore a vast underwater kelp forest off the Sussex coast achieved its first major milestone yesterday, when the introduction of a critical new byelaw was agreed.
The new byelaw, which will see trawling excluded from a vast 304 km2 of Sussex coastline year-round, was agreed by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Sussex IFCA) on 23 January. The decision was made following an extensive consultation period, which saw overwhelming support demonstrated by almost 2,500 people in response to the Help Our Kelp campaign.
Sussex IFCA’s decision brings the first ever UK kelp rewilding initiative one step closer, and aims to give the kelp the breathing space it needs to recover. Over time, repeated passes by trawling vessels have torn kelp from the sea floor and prevented natural regeneration, so the alleviation of this major pressure is the critical first step towards recovery.
Sir David Attenborough lent his support to the campaign in October 2019 when he voiced the Help Our Kelp campaign film, showcasing the wealth of wildlife to be found in this diverse habitat.
The new byelaw must now be passed to the Secretary of State at Defra for approval before it can be implemented, so the Help Our Kelp Partnership now wish to see it signed off quickly before another year of trawling damages the seabed in this vulnerable in-shore zone.