© Copyright - OpenStreetMap

A Local Treasure

The coastal waters between Beachy Head and Hastings on the Sussex coast are well known for a wealth of wildlife and rich seabed habitats. From fragile chalk and sandstone reefs to vulnerable blue mussel beds, this area holds impressive ecological and cultural value. The local sea is important to the community, including sustainable local fishermen, anglers, divers, marine archaeologists, swimmers, sports enthusiasts, walkers and beach users.

But it needs protection. The area is being damaged by non-local fishing boats who are harming the precious seabed habitats with heavy, bottom-towed gear. The local community, including organisations and businesses, is backing the campaign and we are working closely with local fishermen to make Beachy Head East a Marine Conservation Zone.

Backing Beachy Head East - Marine Conservation Zone

Unique Ecological Value

At an impressive ~195km2, the area of Beachy Head East contains:

  • fragile chalk and sandstone reef systems.
  • vulnerable blue mussel beds.
  • two marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance: the Royal Sovereign Shoals and the Horse of Willingdon Reef.
  • threatened and declining species such as the tube-building ross worm, native oyster and short-snouted seahorse.
  • Important feeding grounds for cuckoo wrasse, plaice, Dover sole and small spotted catshark and possible spawning beds for herring.
Underwater chalk reefs like those found at Beachy Head East are rare in Europe but are particularly important for local marine life.

Important Cultural Value:

The area of sea within of Beachy Head East MCZ is valuable for lots of other reasons:
  • Historic ship wrecks
  • Cretaceous fossils
  • Fished by generations of local fishermen and anglers
Enjoyed by divers, sea sports enthusiasts, rock poolers and walkers
Increases feeling of well being
Loved by the local community and visitors to the area

Back the Beachy Head East Marine Conservation Zone:

The UK government has recognised that setting up a network of well-managed protected areas in UK seas is an important way of safeguarding our ocean. It has already designated 50 MCZs in British waters, protecting a range of nationally and internationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology from damaging human activity. 

Marine Conservation Zones are a type of marine protected area. They are needed because the marine environment is coming under increasing pressure from human activity which damages ecosystems. Protecting the marine environment can make our ocean more resilient to change, such as warming and acidification, and ensure that British seas continue to contribute to our society for generations to come. Protection usually involves restrictions on significantly damaging human activities, such as some types of fishing.

What Can You Do?

Sign the petition!

Progress Line

  • Tranche 3 announced
  • MCZ consultation
    (6 weeks)
  • Defra decision making
    (<12 months)
  • Designation

On Friday 20th July 2018, Defra ended its public consultation period on designating the final group of English recommended MCZs. The Government will now take up to 12 months to decide whether Beachy Head East should become a Marine Conservation Zone. 

In the meantime, help us keep Beachy Head East on the agenda by telling Westminster why you think it should be protected.




Latest News

Load More


Alice Tebb

+44 07422 965027


Our Partners

Facilitated by the Agents of Change, a project led by the Marine Conservation Society with Fauna and Flora International and the New Economics Foundation and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. This campaign is partnered with Clean Seas Please and Angling Trust and is funded by the Marine Protected Area Fighting Fund.