New wave of marine protection for coast

The entire coastline section of the South Downs National Park has now been given the highest level of marine conservation protection.

It comes after the Government announced a new raft of Marine Conservation Zones – including one at Beachy Head East near Eastbourne.

This historic move, among 41 new designations, will help protect marine wildlife and follows on from previous announcements of 50 MCZs across the UK in 2013 and 2016.

Jeremy Burgess, Landscape and Biodiversity Lead for Water at the South Downs National Park, explained: “The new MCZ at Beachy Head East is partially within the National Park from the Lighthouse to the edge of Eastbourne.

“Together with Beachy Head West that was previously designated it means that the entire coastline of the National Park is now designated as MCZ, including the iconic Sussex Heritage Coast.

“The designation will help to protect the important undersea chalk reefs and gullies, which support specialist communities of animals and seaweeds.

“The reefs are peppered with holes created by a shellfish, the burrowing Piddock. Once empty these are occupied by other creatures such as crabs.  The two MCZs are also home to the very rare Short Snouted Seahorse and provide nursery sites for plaice and sole.

“We certainly welcome this new designation to help protect our precious coastline and marine life.”

The designations are the final of three phases promised by the Government to fulfil the remit of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Picture courtesy of Louise Foster, Sussex Wildlife Trust