Sussex has become the first UK council to ban trawling effective from 23 January 2020.
Following a successful Help Our Kelp campaign—backed by natural historian, broadcaster and environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority passed a bylaw banning trawling year-round to protect the underwater forest.
Underwater kelp plays an important role in tackling climate issues. The kelp habitat can offset huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions as it absorbs huge amounts of planet-warming carbon. Seaweed(kelp) also mitigates acidification, deoxygenation, and other marine impacts of global warming that jeopardize the biodiversity of the seas.
However, the underwater forest which initially stretched along 40km of the west Sussex coastline and extended 4km into the sea was gradually reduced to nothing by storm damage and human activities such as modern fishing practices, trawling, and overfishing that damage the seafloor and uproot the fauna.
Last October, Sir David told the Telegraph: “The loss of the Sussex kelp forests over the past 40 years is a tragedy.
“This marine rewilding project, if approved, will ensure the Sussex seas remain healthy for generations to come, and could have far-reaching impact for other parts of the UK coast.”
The ensuing fishing ban will cordon a 304 km2 section of the Sussex coast to help preserve the depleting kelp forest.
‘First of its kind in the UK’
Charles Clover, the executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation, which supported the campaign said: “This is an initiative that tackles climate change and overfishing impacts all at once, the first of its kind in the UK. This is exactly what we need to be doing in marine habitats all over the world.”
Kelp is not only important for mitigating global warming, it is also an important habitat for the survival of numerous indigenous aquatic animals such as seahorses, cuttlefish, lobster, sea bream and bass. Being versatile, it can also be grown for food, animal feed, organic fertilizers, renewable energy and other sustainable products such as edible packaging.
- Read: Abandoned fishing gear accounts for the vast majority of plastic rubbish wrecking marine life in the ocean, states report
Should authorities implement the ban in other parts of the UK as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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