People in Sussex can all enjoy the beaches and sea around us, from divers, swimmers, anglers, commercial fishers and sailors to people walking along the beaches and cliff tops taking in the sights. How many people know about what’s under the sea, and about the fishing that it supports? The dolphins that frequent the sea around Brighton and the seals that haul out in Chichester Harbour are flagship Sussex species that indicate the incredible marine wildlife that exists more often out of sight.
The Sussex inshore marine environment has a wide diversity of habitats. This supports an exceptionally wide range of marine species and results in rich inshore fishing grounds.
The UK Government’s vision is of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. Central to this vision is a well-managed ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which the UK has committed to under several international agreements. The network consists of European Marine Sites (EMS), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Ramsar sites, and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).
Through developing a well-managed MPA network, supported by wider environmental fisheries management measures, we will promote the recovery and conservation of marine ecosystems. The health of our marine environment and the state of our fisheries are intrinsically linked. Our work on better understanding and striving to protect our marine environment off Sussex, whilst balancing the economic needs of fishers, is essential to ensure sustainable fisheries.