Smiley Movement logo

British coastlines need kelp!

Words by Cheyanne Bryan

Did you know this one edible plant has such an influence on marine life all across the world? 

Kelp is a very valuable part of the world’s marine ecosystem. As a distinct species of seaweed, this tree-like organism can be found in 20% of the globe's coastlines

However, it is under threat after years of destructive fishing practices, such as trawling, combined with storm events. Trawling refers to a commercial method of fishing that involves pulling a weighted net though the water. This method of fishing is known for disrupting natural fishing habitats - including kelp forests.

But in the context of the UK, kelp has been rapidly diminishing from the coastline - in turn endangering our ecosystems. 

What does kelp actually do?

Aside from being the go-to snack for health buffs out there, kelp truly shines in its natural habitat. Found in relatively shallow waters near shorelines, the brown algae provides shelter to thousands of fish species, in addition to being a nutritious source of food for a variety of sea creatures. 

Celebrated for its diversity, its day job is to also filter seawater and calm abrasive currents after rough storms. A well sustained kelp forest is vital to the potential reintroduction of rewilding Britain's coast and conserving the creatures dependent on it for survival. 

Kelp is on the way!

Screenshot 2024 03 28 at 14 26 57

According to Rewilding Britain, Sussex’s kelp forests once covered 40km of Sussex. But action is happening!

Recently, Sussex Bay has received £100,000 worth of funding from Rewilding Britain to execute their ambitious seascape strategy and drive blue nature recovery while working in collaboration with over 200 other groups. The plans could mean we see the return of kelp, oyster beds and salt marshes being reintroduced along the seabed. To note, the funding will also support three other sea-based projects. 

Chair of the Sussex Kelp Recovery Project, Henri Brocklebank told Smiley News, “The area where kelp was known to exist is now protected from trawling pressure by the Sussex Nearshore Trawling byelaw.” 

She continues, “The engagement with the Sussex Kelp Recovery by local communities has been spectacular, particularly within the sea-using communities who have been witnesses to the loss of the kelp and are now incredible advocates for Sussex marine recovery.”

What can YOU do? 

It is natural to feel like a fish out of water when wanting to help your local marine life, but there are actually a few things locals and enthusiasts can do to assist the work of bigger organisations. Henri says “ If you live locally and you find kelp on the beach please submit the information via our Sussex Kelp App.  It's really important if you eat seafood to support sustainable caught seafood, including the MCS Good Fish guide to anyone keen to understand more about their seafood choices.” 

If you are interested in marine recovery and would like to keep updated on the inspiring work happening in the Sussex marine space, follow Sussex Underwater on Instagram or check out the Sussex Bay website.  

Sussex Bay will also be speaking at Tedx on 5 April and will launch on 13 June at the Corn Exchange, free tickets for their launch will be available from from 5 April. 

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Beaver Trust. This is a charity that coordinates activities across the UK and campaigns for further beaver reintroductions. Learn more here.

Greenseas Trust. This is a charity which educates, promotes and implements environmental programmes to eliminate plastics entering coastal areas and seas.  Find out more here.

SeaTrees. This non-profit organisation develops coastal restoration projects around the world to offset the effects of climate change. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life Below Water.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…