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Date published: 4th April 2018

A group interested in the future of the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds (CSCB) Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) is encouraging people to take part in a survey so their opinions are heard on the topic.

In January 2016 the CSCB MCZ was designated, covering 321km2 of local seabed including the chalk beds.

A community questionnaire, published by the group Agents of Change, is now available to gather people’s thoughts about the next stage of the MCZ project, which is implementation of a management strategy.  Before any management is implemented, there will be public consultation later in 2018 to give the public the opportunity to have their say about how the MCZ should be managed.

The questionnaire will help people understand more about that approaching consultation.  The CSCB is off the coast from Weybourne to Happisburgh. These beds form an extensive reef, a special, unique feature that stretches 23 miles in length and reaches 3 nautical miles out to sea. The reef was sculpted during the Ice Age, formed by a vast number of compressed pre-historic fossilised plankton.  The chalk covers 30km2 and ranges from 0-20 metres in depth. It can be seen at low tide from the cliff path from Sheringham to East Runton and is believed to be the largest chalk bed in Europe.

Marine life is abundant, home to 350 species including 30 species of sea slug and a purple sponge, a new species discovered in 2011 by Dr Claire Goodwin.  Shoaling fish such as bib and bass are also a common sight, the smaller species providing crucial food for local seabirds.

Local fishermen have been catching crabs and lobsters from this area for a long time and it is widely accepted that it is down to their expertise that the chalk bed is in the healthy condition it is today.  It was fishermen of the previous generation who requested a No Trawl Zone over the area to protect it and that bye-law still stands.

John Lee, a local fisherman, said: “We welcome the MCZ, the pristine nature of the chalk bed just goes to show how well as fishermen we treat the sea bed and care for our environment.

“Our only concern is that no management measures are introduced without complete consultation with the fishermen, we are after all professionals and we know the waters inside out.”

The Agents of Change project seeks to attract and amplify all local voices in support of making the most of all the opportunities the MCZ and its management presents.

If you would like to get involved contact Hilary Cox at hilary.cox22@gmail.com.

The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QCHHWPZ.


Last updated: 4th April 2018