Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell today welcomed key new powers to stop trawlers damaging the kelp forest off the Sussex coast as the drive to protect the important marine habitat gathers pace.

Several new bylaws instigated by Worthing and Adur councils centred around inshore fishing and netting, plus a 4km Trawling Exclusion Zone along the Sussex and Kent coasts – given the green light by environment secretary George Eustice – will allow the kelp to grow back and be home to juvenile fish and endangered species.

Since the 1980s, the forests have been under attack from trawling the sea floor and the increased sediment and

Caroline is supporting the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) initiative

“This is a big step to protecting this unseen, largely unknown but incredibly important underwater forest that goes right up to Eastbourne’s doorstep at Beachy Head,” said Caroline.

“MCS and Defra, along with other local organisations like Sussex Wildlife Trust and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority can now really get to work on this exciting project to look at how this kelp forest can now start to regrow.

“I will be working with local fishermen, Sussex colleagues, ministers and these groups to make sure effective plans are in place as soon as possible.”

Experts believe kelp can globally absorb 600 million tonnes of carbon a year and this local initiative has received the support of Sir David Attenborough.

The Trawler Exclusion Zone will help the kelp regenerate over time and do its bit to beat climate change.

In the UK, the habitat is home for seahorses, cuttlefish, lobster and a host of fish species, including sea bream and bass.

“In tandem with the new Beachy Head Marine Conservation Zone I championed and helped secure a few years back, this shows we are making progress of national and international importance off Eastbourne’s coast that will protect our climate and seas for generations to come,” Caroline added.