Steve Allnutt, founder of the Sussex Seabed Restoration Project, has planted kelp beds along the Sussex coastline while freediving for the past 20 years in an effort to restore the vast kelp beds that once covered Sussex inshore waters.
Destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling has destroyed most of the important kelp habitats. Today, only a few small patches and individual plants are left.
Following a policy ban that came into force in March 2021, 200 square kilometres of Sussex inshore waters are now free from bottom trawling, leaving room for restoration efforts.
While the Sussex Wildlife Trust seeks to restore kelp beds through the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project, a group of individuals will also help restore kelp beds in the area with the Sussex Seabed Restoration Project that is led by Allnutt.
“The kelp restoration project’s main goal to restore kelp and the seabed habitat in Sussex inshore waters, now that we are free of the destruction of trawling,” says Steve Allnutt, founder of the Sussex Seabed Restoration Project who has perfected growing and outplanting kelp plants in his own backyard for over 20 years. He adds: “Sussex waters currently don’t have an active seabed restoration project to help restore the forgotten 97% of destroyed seabed off our coast.”
The project’s aim is to generate enough money to fund a local kelp restoration hub for a community of individuals that seek to actively and directly help restore and rewild the Sussex seabed. The community will be made up of freedivers, fishermen, swimmers and everyone else who would like to help out. “Our method of restoration is inclusive to everyone, and does not require a diving qualification or a scientific background. This is truly a community-driven restoration effort,” explains Allnutt.
Working at the heart of the local community will therefore be the main pillar of the new project. While individuals will learn how to cultivate and outplant kelp, the group will create and develop awareness of the consequences of historical and ongoing destruction of the Sussex seabed, highlighting how communities can help protect and rewild the ocean.
“Giving back to the sea, engaging with the community to promote understanding of the importance of the work and the environmental impact this can have alongside working closely with other established sea community groups and organisations is our passion. We hope to share our love of the Sussex Sea with as many people as possible, and restore it for future generations to enjoy,” he says.
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash.