The shallow coastal seas off the Sussex Coast are home to an amazing diversity of habitats. This habitat diversity supports an exceptionally wide range of animal and plant species and results in rich inshore fishing grounds. A number of the habitats within the Sussex IFCA District are recognised as internationally important for their conservation value, for example Chichester Harbour which, amongst other designations, is a Special Area of Conservation.
A wide variety of seabed types are present, ranging from fine mud in low-energy areas such as Rye Bay, to bedrock exposures of sandstone, limestone, chalk and mudstone. In general, the near shore seabed is an assortment of mixed sediments (especially gravel and shells) with sand and, in sheltered locations, mud. Gravel and mixed sediment habitats cover extensive subtidal and offshore areas of the eastern English Channel. There are also occasional and sometimes extensive areas of exposed bedrock and boulder reefs, often occurring off headlands such as Beachy Head and Selsey Bill. As a result of this mosaic of different sediment types, a wide variety of habitats are found on the Sussex seabed.
The diverse seabed habitats off the Sussex Coast attract a great diversity of marine life and species of great commercial value are no exception. Each species is unique in its life cycle, behaviour and habitat preference and the fishermen utilise these characteristics to catch their target species e.g. baiting pots to attract bottom dwelling mobile shellfish like lobsters, crabs and whelks, or towing a net to catch the larger mobile fish which inhabit the mid water region. There are also species which migrate through the district or visit for a specific purpose for example cuttlefish are only present from May to July as they come inshore to breed. Follow the link below for descriptions on the most commercially important finfish and shellfish species for Sussex. The descriptions include notes on how to identify the species along with some biology and ecology including; size, lifespan, reproductive capacity, reproductive behaviour, migratory behaviour, habitat and predator and prey interactions. This is followed by information on the local fishery including; the fishing methods used to target that species and temporal and spatial fishing activity information, including how fishing activity relates to the species behaviour e.g. spawning and migrations. Read more...
The Sussex IFCA will be pursuing an exciting program of research which aims to illuminate the diversity of habitats and species which are to be found in the shallow coastal seas off the Sussex Coast. Using the latest technologies such as multibeam sonar, coupled with simple video and photos we will be publishing this information via this website.
Over the coming years we hope to make this process as interactive as possible by making the data available online using 'geo-tagging' and online maps.
Click on the image below to Explore the Sussex Seabed