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The designated marine conservation zone

The designated marine conservation zone.

Added protection for Hastings’ marine life

In July 2018, Erica Smith and Nick Terdre wrote for HOT about the consultation for deciding on future Marine Conservation Zone designations. The designation in question, named Beachy Head East, has now been confirmed as of 31 May 2019. The area stretches from Eastbourne to Hastings Pier, going out into the Channel just beyond the Sovereign lighthouse – an excellent local spot for divers. Anton Hack of Biodiversity Hastings writes.
It is good news for the local fishermen (Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society), residents, businesses, authorities, MPs, divers, surfers and conservationists that contributed to or supported the application. And good news too for the local marine flora and fauna – like the green-blooded and three-hearted cuttlefish (yes, it has 3 hearts!), the common lobster and the adorable and petite short-snouted seahorses, all found in an area which includes globally rare marine chalk habitat.

Common lobster. Image courtesy of Udo Van Dongen

Common lobster. Image courtesy of Udo Van Dongen

To quote the DEFRA factsheet: ‘The largest underwater chalk seascapes are predominantly found in Kent and Sussex, including within the Beachy Head East site. Short-snouted seahorses and Ross worm reefs are also found within this site. Ross worms build tubes from sand and shell fragments. Large colonies can form reefs, stabilising the seabed, providing shelter for other creatures and boosting the number and types of species in the area.

The site is also considered an important nursery area for herring, plaice and Dover sole. Plaice and Dover sole survive by camouflaging themselves in subtidal sand allowing them to avoid predators, whilst subtidal sand and coarse sediments provide a habitat for invertebrate species on which adult fish prey.

Cuttlefish. Image by David Nicholson, copyright

Cuttlefish. Image by David Nicholson, copyright

The Marine Stewardship Council certified that Hastings Fishing Fleet can continue their sustainably recognised practices, while larger vessels and destructive fishing methods such as beam trawling will now be illegal. How this may be monitored is another matter.

MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, who took part in the consultation process to achieve the added protection, is confident that this will stop “larger scale harmful fishing methods” and help to maintain the 250 or so jobs connected to the fishing industry in the Hastings area.

Short-snouted seahorse. Copyright Joelle GUYOT.

Short-snouted seahorse. Copyright Joelle GUYOT.

Posted 10:43 Friday, Jun 14, 2019 In: Nature


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. John Baker

    Welcome news indeed, and I’m happy to see that the article draws attention to the elephant in the room: ‘How this may be monitored is another matter’.
    Experience from round the world shows that without rigorous policing, such paper measures are meaningless; and I fear that this government, while happy to seek electoral gain by the deployment of massive resources to intercept the tiny number of small craft carrying refugees seeking safety (often from wars supported by British foreign policy) on these shores, will do nothing to deter huge trawlers reducing the sea floor of the marine conservation zone to a rubble-strewn desert.

    Comment by John Baker — Monday, Jun 17, 2019 @ 06:26

  2. Sunbear

    This is very good news. Our fishing fleet deserve all the support they can get in bringing us lovely fish. Let’s just sink illegal vessels.

    Comment by Sunbear — Monday, Jun 17, 2019 @ 00:29

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