Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone is an important Marine Protected Area in Sussex coastal waters. It is named after Kingmere Rocks which is a reef running through the middle of the site. There are also areas of chalk and different types of sediment. It is a place where black seabream come to breed in the spring.
Kingmere MCZ was designated within the first tranche of MCZ sites in November 2013. It is 5-10km south of Littlehampton and Worthing and covers an area of 47km2. It was designated for chalk, rock covered in a thin layer of gravel and sand, as well as black seabream.
Sussex IFCA’s role with regard to Kingmere MCZ is to introduce appropriate management of the fisheries activities that have a negative impact on the features of conservation importance; the black seabream, the chalk and rock covered in a layer of sediment.
Sussex IFCA has introduced management of commercial and recreational fishing that promotes compliance and support from the community, whilst meeting the conservation requirements of Kingmere MCZ. Management came into force in December 2016.
The MPA Byelaw can be found here. This is the over-arching MPA Byelaw with Shedule 1 for Kingmere MCZ, Schedule 2 for Beachy Head West MCZ, Schedule 3 for Pagham MCZ and Scedule 4 for Utopia MCZ.
Additional guidance on the byelaw specific to Kingmere can be found here.
The associated Kingmere Schedule Impact Assessment can be found here.
A leaflet summarising the managment of Kingmere MCZ can be found here This is designed to be a single sheet of A4, folded in half.
The voluntary Code of Conduct can be found here.
These management measures are specific to Kingmere MCZ. Other management measures may apply, check our byelaws page here.
Kingmere MCZ has three protected features as stated in the designation order. These are Moderate energy infralittoral rock and thin mixed sediments, Subtidal chalk and Black seabream (Spondyliosoma cantharus). Infralittoral rock refers to rock that is prodominantly covered in algae. Moderate energy refers to the amount of wave and tidal energy around the rock which influences the species which occur there. Mixed sediments is a classification that refers to a mix of gravel, cobbles, sand and mud sediments. There is more information about the EUNIS habitat classification scheme here.
The MCZ also incorporates two Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI); Kingmere Rocks, after which the site is named, as well as Worthing Lumps, a chalk outcrop. The MCZ is a diverse mix of rocky reefs and boulders with attached seaweed and animals and areas of sand and gravel. There are many species using these seabed habitats as places to shelter, feed and breed. To see more information on the habitats and video clips of seabed surveys click here for our interactive map.
Black seabream have complex and fascinating biology. They first mature as females and then change to males when they are larger and older. The males make a nest on the seabed and will look after the eggs and young fish when they hatch. They arrive in Sussex in the spring to feed and breed, then move further east in the summer, returning in the autumn on their way to overwintering in deeper water offshore to the west.
More information is available here.
Fishing activity on Kingmere
The site is mainly fished by vessels based in Selsey, Shoreham, Newhaven and Littlehampton. The main commercial fishery is potting, followed by netting and trawling. Most vessels fishing in the site are small static gear boats under 10 metres.
Cuttlefish is an important species caught within the MCZ. Trawls, traps and static nets are used during the spring; coinciding with the black bream spawning season.Bass are also caught within the site, mainly by commercial rod and line fishers. The important target species in spring and summer are plaice, Dover sole, skate and black seabream, and in winter the target species are whiting, lemon sole and cod. There is more information on common species caught in Sussex available here.
The Kingmere area is a popular spot for angling with both local and non-local anglers all year round, with April to June during the black seabream breeding season being a key period. This site is renowned for having one of the best populations of black seabream in the south east and as such attracts anglers from all over the country at certain times of year.
More information on fishing vessel effort is in this report and in the Impact Assessment.We have worked with the Angling Trust to produce a voluntary Code of Conduct for recreational sea anglers using Kingmere MCZ.
Sussex IFCA has undertaken a range of research projects with various partner organisations and stakeholders to fulfill the aim of monitoring the features of Kingmere MCZ.
Acoustic and video surveys
In 2014 and 2015, Sussex IFCA worked with Cefas and Fugro-Emu to use a side scan sonar and underwater video camera to map seabed habitats and black seabream nests. Clips from these video surveys can be found via our interactive map. The features mapped in these surveys helped to develop the spatial extent of the management zones.
Black seabream tagging
Between 2014 and 2016, Sussex IFCA worked with local charter angling skippers to attach external identification tags to seabream. Positions and details of tagged fish released were recorded for every fish and when tagged seabream were recaptured, these details were recorded again, giving some information about seabream migration patterns and site fidelity.
Tagging of black seabream indicated site fidelity with numerous seabream returning to Kingmere MCZ to breed in subsequent years following tagging.
Tagged black seabream which spent part of the year in West Sussex coastal waters were also found off the coast of France and Dorset.
55% of tagged black seabream were recaptured within 5km of their release locations.
74% of tagged black seabream were recaptured within 10km of their release locations.
56% of recaptures were within Kingmere MCZ (any time of the year).
61% of recaptures were in April, May or June (any location).
32% of recaptures were in April, May or June and within Kingmere MCZ.
All black seabream that were recaptured April-June in subsequent years were within 10km of their release locations.
Concurrent with routine compliance duties, black seabream focussed patrols were conducted April-June to gather catch per unit effort and biological information from recreational and commercial fishers.
76% of the black seabream retained onboard angling vessels were recorded as males based on external features.
There was an average of four people onboard each recreational angling vessel (private and charter) with an average of 5 rods and 6-8 hooks per vessel.
In 2019, there was an average of 14 seabream caught per vessel with 44% retained and 56% released.
Anglers retained an average of 1.5 black seabream per person.
In 2016, the average catch per unit effort was 0.48 seabream per hook per hour. In 2019, the average catch per unit effort was 0.79 seabream per hook per hour.
Since 2001, when Sussex IFCA officers are conducting a sea patrol and they see a fishing vessel, they record its position and the fishing gear it is using. Fishing activity in and around Kingmere MCZ was analysed to understand the fishing pressure on the features. A report on the fishing effort for the whole District is available here.
In 2017-19, 25 out of the 45 fishing effort cells within Kingmere MCZ had observed angling vessels and the highest effort was an annual average of 1.5 vessels per square kilometre. The previous analysis period of 2012-2016, fewer cells (18) had observed angling vessels and the highest effort was an annual average of 0.3 vessels per square kilometre, 4.5 times less than 2017-19. There was more fishing effort after the Kingmere MCZ byelaw came into force than before.
Netting activity was observed in more cells but at a lower intensity (2017-19 compared to 2012-16).
Potting activity was observed in fewer cells but at a higher intensity in some cells (2017-19 compared to 20112-16).
No trawling was observed in Kingmere MCZ after the byelaw came into force. In 2012-16, trawling was observed in 8 cells at an annual average fishing effort of 0.01 to 0.03 vessels per square kilometre.
There were 250 observations of angling vessels in Kingmere MCZ 2017-19. 52% of observered vessels were in April.
Sussex IFCA supports partner organisations to conduct small fish surveys along the Sussex coast, focussing on juveniles of larger species and small fish adapted to specific nearshore conditions. Juvenile black seabream are often caught inshore as they use these sheltered areas for the first few years of their lives. For more information see the reports on the research page.
Sussex IFCA only has jurisdiction over fishing activities. We are working with partner organisations to support a whole ecosystem approach to multi-sectoral use of the site.
There are two aggregate extraction licences issued by the Marine Management Organisation for sites within the MCZ. You can find out more on the MMO's website by searching their database with the case number MLA/2015/00432 for Area 453 and the case number MLA/2015/00431 for Area 488.
Balanced Seas: site selection
After over two years of discussion, taking into account social and economic factors alongside the best available scientific evidence, stakeholders passed 127 final site recommendations to Government advisory bodies in September 2011. All the MCZ sites went out for public consultation between December 2012 and March 2013, enabling further input from the community into the sites to be designated. More information on the Balanced Seas project can be found here.
Sussex IFCA: Community Voice Method
Sussex IFCA conducted extensive informal consultation to develop and generate support for potential management measures at Kingmere. Prior to the designation of first tranche MCZ sites at the end of 2013, Sussex IFCA had already begun its first stage of consulting with the community on management. Leading the process, Sussex IFCA worked with the Marine Conservation Society and independent consultants on an innovative project which utilised a film-based technique called Community Voice Method (CVM) to gather people’s views on Sussex MCZ management.
Forty-one filmed stakeholder interviews were conducted between November 2013 and April 2014, with people selected based on their expert knowledge or involvement in relevant industries or sea user groups. The aim was to ensure as full a range of views and values as possible from across the area was captured. The 30 minute film produced was screened at 6 wider community MCZ management workshops conducted in October and November 2014. At the workshops, potential management options for different fishing activities within Kingmere MCZ were discussed. You can watch the film here.
These management options were developed by Sussex IFCA in consultation with Natural England in response to the conservation advice for the site, with key site users and the Authority’s committee.
The management measures used best available evidence at the time of management formulation. Where adaptive management measures are proposed, such as bag limits for anglers which are subject to review, agreed ongoing monitoring and research has been developed with Natural England to assess if the conservation objectives (‘recover’ for all features) are being met.
This means that there will be a review period of 4 years. The first review will be in 2021. If there is evidence that there is a significant impact on the MCZ features, then the byelaw will be amended to address this. Any changes to the byelaw will involve full consultation with stakeholders.
Links to further information
DEFRA's MCZ factsheet and designation order with site boundary coordinates
Wildlife Trusts' Kingmere page
Natural England's fact sheet and conservation advice
The Kingmere MCZ page