Dr Heidi Burgess is working alongside University of Brighton students as part of the CHASM (Crustaceans, Habitat And Sediment Movement) Project, in partnership with Chichester District Council, the Channel Coastal Observatory, and University of Southampton. The project is also supported by over 20 national, regional, and local environmental organisations with interests in the marine environment.
The CHASM study focuses on the waters around the Manhood Peninsula coastline, following concerns raised by the fishermen of Selsey Bill, who wanted to know why they were catching so few crabs and lobsters compared with ten years ago. They also reported a huge increase in the amount of sediment locally.
Crabs and lobsters play a key role both economically and environmentally. They are ecosystem engineers, increasing biodiversity and plankton production in the ocean, which in turn plays an important role in locking atmospheric greenhouse gases and carbon in the ocean. The reduction of local kelp stocks – an important element of carbon absorption in the ocean – is significant too.