Sussex Coast

Wild Coast Sussex – what we have achieved

Posted 28/03/2024

Wild Coast Sussex - what we have achieved
Wild Coast Weekend © Sophia Pinheiro-Vergara

By Ella Garrud

Wild Coast Sussex Project Manager

Wild Coast Sussex is a community engagement and education project which aims to inspire Sussex communities to care for the marine environment and enable them to protect their local coast and ocean. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to money raised by the National Lottery Players. Sussex Wildlife Trust is the lead partner, alongside Marine Conservation Society, Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, and Brighton SEA LIFE.

The project kicked off in October 2020 and is finally coming to an end in March 2024. With three and a half years of delivery the team has achieved a huge amount.


Wild Coast Sussex Elm Grove Primary © Miles Davies
Wild Beach session with Elm Grove Primary © Miles Davies

Wild Beach is an outdoor education programme based on child-centred learning, giving children the chance to develop a strong connection with their local coastline. Throughout the project we have worked with schools from Selsey to Hastings. Children have learnt about what animals are found along the Sussex coastline through rockpooling and strandline scavenger hunting. They’ve learnt about tides and the weather, about the importance of looking after the beach environment and much more. It’s been inspiring watching children grow in confidence, and learning what they can do to help protect their local coastline.

We have also taken the beach to children who can’t access the coast by running sensory sessions in Special Educational Needs schools. We brought natural beach materials and beach sounds and smells to give children a full-sensory experience of the coast in the classroom.

Young people

A large focus of the project has been on engaging with new audiences. Led by Marine Conservation Society, we have worked with lots of groups of 16-25-year-olds, putting on events to enable learning, empower local communities, create change, and advocate for mental health and wellbeing. Events have been activities with a connection to the coast and ocean, such as silent disco beach cleans, Art by the Sea workshops, Ocean Hackathons, Citizen Science training, visits to SEA LIFE Brighton and many more.

Net Recycling and Ghost Gear

Collected ghost fishing gear © Nikki Hills
Collected ghost fishing gear © Nikki Hills

Through consultation with the fishing community and by working with local ports, we have setup a scheme to recycle end of life fishing gear for Sussex fishers. We work with a company called Odyssey Innovation who take the fishing gear, recycle it into pellets and create new products such as kayaks. There are plans in the works for Worthing Coastal Office, Adur and Worthing Council, and Shoreham Port to continue the recycling scheme beyond the end of the project.

Ghost gear is fishing gear that is either abandoned, lost, or discarded at sea. Most of this gear is made from non-biodegradable materials, so the gear remains intact in the ocean, and continues to harm marine life by ‘ghost fishing’. Marine animals can become entangled in the gear, and often die as a result.

Wild Coast Sussex have been working with the charity Ghost Fishing UK to provide them with regular reports of ghost gear sightings in Sussex, so that trained divers can remove entangled fishing gear along our coast.

Interns and Champions

Over the course of the project, we have hosted three interns. These posts have provided paid professional experience in marine conservation and community engagement. Two of our fantastic interns were hired to work on the project, while the other organised art workshops and exhibitions of artwork inspired by the Sussex coast.

We have also taken on board a fantastic group of Champions, who volunteer their time on the project. They have taken part in a range of opportunities in citizen science, communications, helping with events and assisting at Wild Beach sessions. Without these amazing ocean advocates, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve everything we have.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make the project such a success!

Wild Coast Sussex achievements
An infographic of Wild Coast Sussex’s achievements

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