Coastal efforts divide opinion

Beachy Head
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A NATIONAL marine charity says people living in Eastbourne are divided on how much protection they would like to see given to coastal waters off Beachy Head.

Although hundreds of votes have been cast on the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) website in favour of creating a no take zone around the Seven Sisters area, a substantial number of voters don’t want to see any further protection at all.

Since November 2009, there have been more than 15,000 votes on its ‘Your Seas Your Voice’ project website.

The site offers the public a voice on where they want to see marine protected areas around the UK, a network of which the Government is expected to start rolling out in 2012.

The marine area off Seven Sisters is recommended by MCS to receive the status of a fully protected Marine Conservation Zone, and that suggestion has sparked real debate among conservationists, locals and anglers.

Your Seas Your Voice project co-ordinator Dr Jean-Luc Solandt said the area is as special underwater as the famous landscape is above.

“These sorts of reserves in other parts of the world like have shown tremendous benefit to species that have previously been exploited.

“MCS feels that similar benefits could be achieved at Seven Sisters.”

More than 380 people have voted in favour of the site being fully protected, yet significant numbers still want to fish there, as 94 ‘no’ votes have so far been cast.

Anglers are particularly concerned about MCS proposals, questioning if banning recreational beach fishing would improve the health of the reefs given the distance from the beach and the numbers who fish in this way.

People can continue to vote for specific areas, including Seven Sisters, at www.yourseasyourvoice.com