Beachy Head becomes conservation zone

Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.
Seven Sisters and Beachy Head.

An area of Beachy Head is to be turned into a marine conservation zone to help protect endangered species along the Sussex coast.

Beachy Head West was one of 27 areas in the country designated by the Government in a bid to help protect the rich marine biodiversity, which includes the black bream, native oyster and rare lagoon snail.

Beachy Head’s chalk cliffs extend about 500m out to sea as a wave cut platform, and the gullies, crevices and ledges are home to an array of marine life.

The surface of the chalk also has a number of holes which are caused by burrowing piddocks and worms.

Ross coral, sponges, sea squirts, anemones, bryozoans and hydroids also live in the chalk reefs.

There are also species of lobsters, spider crabs, hermit crabs, and long and short snouted seahorses.

The designation means marine life will have an undisturbed place to live.

Two other Sussex sites were given protection by the government, including Kingmere near Littlehampton and Pagham Harbour near Chichester.

The Littlehampton site is a breeding ground for black bream and the Chichester site is where the rare Defolin’s lagoon snail lives.

Joan Edwards, from The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said: “We welcome the designation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones.

“This is the first active step in what we believe to be the most important action Government can take to address the shocking state of nature at sea.

“Marine protection is an issue which matters to anyone who has ever spent happy afternoons exploring rockpools or been enchanted by chance encounters with dolphins, whales or one of the many other captivating species we enjoy in our waters.

“There is huge public support for greater protection of our seas using Marine Protected Areas.

“They are one of the best tools to protect marine wildlife effectively and restore our seas to their full potential, following decades of neglect and decline.”

There are another eight sites of the Sussex coast that the Wildlife Trust would like to see designated and it is hoped they will be put forward for the second and third rounds of conservation designation by the government.