Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Marine conservation zone

Vote for our marine conservation zone!

A government consultation is under way on designating our local sea as a marine conservation zone (MCZ), a marine protected area that safeguards some of the nation’s best or most vulnerable seabed habitats and marine wildlife. Erica Smith and Nick Terdre report.

The area under discussion runs from Beachy Head lighthouse along the mean high water line all the way to Hastings Pier. It also extends out six nautical miles (seven miles/11 km!), around the Royal Sovereign lighthouse. It’s a really significant size, covering about 193 square km, making it potentially the biggest inshore marine protected area in Sussex.

“The sea off Beachy Head, Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings is well known for a wealth of wildlife and rich seabed habitats,” says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), a not-for-profit organisation which campaigns for the increased protection of the UK’s seas.  “Yet the local marine environment is being significantly damaged by unsustainable fishing methods, such as heavy bottom-towed fishing gear.

“We want to protect our fragile local marine environments from harmful human activities and conserve them into the future. We consider high quality marine habitats, like marine conservation zones, to be good for our local community and economy.”

Through Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – the government is consulting on creating a third tranche of marine conservation zones, involving 41 new zones. The local one would be known as the Beachy Head East MCZ.

If designated, it would protect rare chalk and sandstone reefs, important blue mussel beds, seahorses, vulnerable native oysters and the endangered European eel, among other features.

There are details below on how to participate in the consultation, which remains open until 20 July, and also a link to an MSC petition in support of the creation of an MCZ.

The Agents of Change project has run a community-focused campaign to raise awareness about the designation of Beachy Head East. Lots of community members are already behind the designation, including fishermen, divers, anglers and all local MPs.

However, not everyone liked the name Beachy Head East – Royal Sovereign Shoals, Cretaceous Coast and Normans Bay were suggested as alternative names for the MCZ – and the matter was put to a vote.00MCZ

It was a close run race between Royal Sovereign Shoals MCZ and the current name, but in the end the people voted that it should remain known as Beachy Head East MCZ.

The Agents of Change is a project led by the MCS with Fauna and Flora International and the New Economics Foundation and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. This campaign is partnered with the Angling Trust and Clean Seas Please and funded by the Marine Protected Area Fighting Fund.


To respond to the government’s consultation, follow this link. To sign the MSC petition, go here.  To find out more about the Beachy Head East MCZ and the campaign for its designation, please contact

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Posted 17:25 Tuesday, Jul 10, 2018 In: The HOT Planet

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