Our projects

Sussex Kelp Restoration Project

Once 96% destroyed by man, in 2021 the kelp forests of Sussex were protected by a trawling ban that Blue Marine helped secure. Now our research shows the forests coming back to life  

Kelp forests once stretched along the coastline of Sussex in the south of England for 40 km. They are a highly productive and biodiverse environment that provide shelter, feeding and nursery grounds for species including cuttlefish, lobster, sea-bream and bass. Kelp also has the potential to store carbon, aiding in the fight against climate change, to improve water quality, and reduce coastal erosion by absorbing the power of ocean waves.  

Since 1987, however, more than 96 per cent of Sussex kelp had been destroyed by trawling and other human pressure. To reverse this decline, in 2019 the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority proposed a byelaw to prohibit trawling on more than 300 sq. km of seabed.

Blue Marine was part of the Help our Kelp campaign to promote the byelaw, which gained support from almost 2,500 members of the public. In 2021 the byelaw was approved, creating one of the largest inshore areas closed to trawling in England, and the first kelp restoration project in the UK. Sir David Attenborough supported the campaign film, and called the byelaw a ‘landmark decision for the management of the UK’s coastal waters’. 

Following its introduction, Blue Marine helped establish the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project – a collective of conservation and government organisations, scientists and communities that monitors the kelp’s return. We support a programme to assess the effects on wildlife and inshore fisheries of excluding trawling, which includes surveys to monitor mobile benthic species, studies of crab and lobster populations and socio-economic research with fishermen. Three years on, a story of hope is emerging as pockets of kelp and fish not seen in years are reported across the area. The Sussex Kelp Recovery Project Progress and Impact Report 2021-2022 shows how.  

Despite the ban, sediment from land run-off and dredge-spoil disposal is reducing the light kelp needs to grow. To address this, Blue Marine led the first Sussex Sediment Sources and Impacts Workshop in 2021 to gather evidence, a Sussex Sediment Sea Users Survey and a report on Sussex Sediment Sources and Pathways. This fed into the second Sussex Sediment Monitoring and Adaptive Response Workshop in May 2023, bringing together representatives from 27 organisations.  

Elsewhere, we are engaging with local communities to help low-impact fisheries thrive. Fishermen and councillors in Bognor have launched a fisheries renaissance to bring the activity back to the town – watch the start of their journey to bring Bognor Fishing Back from the Brink.  

Watch the Help Our Kelp campaign film narrated by Sir David Attenborough here:

Image credits: Andy Jackson and Big Wave TV


Watch Sussex Kelp Recovery Project vision for nature recovery here:



Sussex Kelp

Key stats

96 per cent of Sussex Kelp has disappeared since 1987

Related news

Our partners

Our partners for this project

How to help

By working together, we can turn the tide on overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity. By supporting Blue Marine, you can help to create marine reserves around the world.


No matter how big or small, all donations are valuable to us.


Join Friends of Blue Marine

Support Blue Marine by joining us today.

Join us

Blue Marine Yacht club

The Ocean’s Favourite Club

Become a member