Another Milestone Protection for Sussex Seas - Sussex Wildlife Trust

Bottlenose Dolphin © Caroline Weir
Bottlenose Dolphin © Caroline Weir

Sussex Wildlife Trust is delighted that Dolphin Head has been officially designated as a Highly Protected Marine Area today, 5 June 2023. Dolphin Head, off the Sussex coast, is one of only three English sites designated as a Highly Protected Marine Area.

Dolphin Head covers an area of 466Km2, lying approximately 55Km from the Sussex coast – and as from today, we will soon see all damaging activity in this vast area prohibited. Following decades of bottom-towed trawling, we know the site is degraded; however, the new protection afforded to the site represents an opportunity to fully recover the ecosystem.

The site is hotspot of biodiversity within the English Channel owing to the variety of habitats found there. These include rocky reef, areas of mixed sediments, and Ross Worm reefs, which create complex habitat on which many other species make a home. The area is also used by numerous seabirds and marine mammals, including Risso’s Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises.

Following recommendations set out in the Benyon Review in 2020 and a period of site selection and consultation, Dolphin Head is one of the three sites which have been designated as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

Sussex Wildlife Trust put this area forward for consideration as a HPMA early on in the process so is delighted that it has now been designated. It will be afforded the highest level of protection of any marine protected area in English waters (alongside Allonby Bay, off the Cumbria coast, and North-East of Farnes Deep, in the North Sea).

This new designation will ban all damaging activities within the boundaries of the site. Unlike other types of marine protected area, this whole-site protection will mean the entire marine ecosystem is protected, rather than specific features.

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Posted On: 05/07/2023

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