At present there is a strategic push from government and associated agencies to achieve net carbon zero targets, and there is a drive to undertake this, at least in part, through nature based solutions. There has been increasing research over the last decade to evaluate factors that influence carbon storage in coastal and marine systems (termed blue carbon), although the bulk of this research has been focused on seagrasses, mangrove and saltmarsh systems. However, there has been little research into how macro-algal systems can support this important ecosystem service.
Recently Sussex IFCA have been successful in implementing the Sussex near-shore trawling exclusion bylaw along a large section of the Sussex coast. It is hoped that this will support the natural recovery of the former large swathes of kelp that existed here and increase carbon draw down in the local coastal zone by removing historical pressure from removal of macroalgae by trawlers and reduce the resuspension of material from the sea floor.
The project aim is to identify the rate of carbon draw-down and storage in Sussex Kelp within the Sussex nearshore trawling exclusion byelaw area and also within wider Sussex waters.
This will also involve the evaluation of the rates of carbon sequestration in deeper water sediments in Sussex Bay linked to historical macroalgal growth and identify how changes in sources of carbon have altered over time.