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Rewilding the Sussex seabed

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Vast kelp beds once supported a wondrous diversity of marine life. They absorbed carbon, filtered the water and protected the coast from storms. But by the mid-1980s, 96% of Sussex kelp had disappeared. We aim to bring it back.

Why Kelp

Kelp create some of the most biodiverse marine environments on the planet.

Kelp are large brown seaweeds found along rocky shores. Like marine trees, kelp create a 'canopy' beneath which many species takes shelter and find food.

As this includes commercial fish and crustaceans, kelp supports local livelihoods as well as providing other benefits for nature, people and planet.

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Enabling Kelp Recovery

The journey to kelp recovery started with the Sussex Nearshore Trawling Byelaw

This pioneering legislation created one of the largest trawling prohibited areas in the UK in March 2021.

At the same time, the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project was formed to champion, study and facilitate the return of kelp through through progressive, coherent and collaborative action.

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Benefits

Kelp provide many benefits for nature, people and planet.

Qualifying and promoting these benefits can help marine recovery in the UK and beyond.

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  • Fish nursery

    A healthy kelp ecosystem is an ideal nursery for juvenile fish providing a safe place to grow.

  • Water filtering

    Seaweeds remove inorganic nutrients from water.

  • Wave absorption

    Abundant kelp beds can absorb the wave energy of storms which helps to protect our coastline.

  • Biodiversity enabler

    Kelp and other essential fish habitats provide food and shelter for a huge variety of fish, crustaceans, invertebrates and other marine life.

  • Carbon storage

    Kelp absorbs carbon as it grows, and by supporting other marine life, contributes to the global carbon cycle.

  • Spawning grounds

    Kelp provide spawning grounds for many commercial fish species, supporting significant commercial and recreational fisheries.

  • Tourism and recreation

    Kelp and the animals they support create superb wildlife experiences.

  • Shelter and feeding grounds

    Kelp provides shelter and feeding grounds for seals and dolphins.

  • Non toxic fertiliser

    Drift seaweed that washes up on beaches can be used as a fertiliser.

  • Multi-dimensional habitat

    One kelp can support up to 80,000 individual animals!

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Leading-edge research techniques

SKRP's research includes towed underwater cameras, Baited Remote Underwater Videos, eDNA analysis and carbon dating techniques alongside surveys of shellfish, landings data and interviews.

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The local people helping to recover kelp

Combining the efforts of divers, marine biologists, policy-makers, fishers, local sea users and citizen scientists, the SKRP is a collective journey. Read about their passion for kelp!

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Assessing different pressures

Many factors may have changed since the 1980s, from poor water quality and increased sedimentation, to changing water temperature. SKRP is assessing the impact of these pressures

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Latest News

22 May 2024

Glimmers of hope for recovery of Sussex sea forests

The Sussex Kelp Recovery Project (SKRP), the UK’s largest marine rewilding project, celebrates three years of seabed protection in Sussex today on the International Day of Biological Diversity.

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20 Mar 2024

Celebrating three years of the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project

We are celebrating three years of seabed protection and of the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project.

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14 Sep 2023

Our Sea Forest

Eric Smith tells his first-hand story of the loss of the Sussex kelp beds, and how a trawling ban has meant the forests are starting to recover.

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