Coastal and marine biodiversity

The underwater world is rich and diverse with hermit crabs, tompot blennies, lobster and bib. You may see beautiful jewel anemones or Devonshire cup corals on deep offshore wrecks, where they are both at the eastern limit of their range.

Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance

We have identified areas which are of special interest for their habitats, flora and fauna, or for their unusual geological or geomorphological features. Sussex SEASEARCH, a project which uses volunteer divers to map the near-shore seabed, has helped in this.

East and West Sussex County Councils and Brighton & Hove City Council have designated 12 such areas as Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance, the only such sites in the country. A further 12 have been identified and will be formally designated in the near future.

Seven Sisters Voluntary Marine Conservation Area

The Seven Sisters Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) runs from the Martello Tower at Seaford to the Wish Tower at Eastbourne, and out to sea for about 2km. The VMCA covers the wave cut chalk platform and recognises its significant biological, geological and archaeological interest.

Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority

The Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority was set up in 2011 to protect and manage coastal waters in East and West Sussex.

To find out more about the work they do, as well as detailed information about local coastal species and habitats, visit their website:

What you can do to help

Help protect our coastal habitats by:

  • taking care not to trample plants – they play an important role in stabilising the beach
  • avoiding walking through densely vegetated areas
  • clearing up after your dog
  • disposing of litter and garden waste responsibly
  • encouraging native flora into your garden if you live on the beach – it will survive much better
  • not lighting bonfires on the beach
  • not removing plants or shingle from the beach.

Further information

For more information please contact:

Dr Kate Cole, County Ecologist
Phone: 01273 481621
Email: kate.cole@eastsussex.gov.uk

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