Spawning areas and habitats of marine fish off the Kent coast are being investigated by researchers in an attempt to safeguard their future.

The Canterbury Christ Church University team are working with the French environment and fisheries centre to produce spawning habitat models.

Dr Corinne Martin said she hoped the scheme would help predict how climate change could affect species' habitats.

The 12-month project is being partly funded by the EU.

Spatial drift

Ms Martin, project leader, said: "The project's ultimate aim is to protect the health and sustainability of this sensitive shared ecosystem.

"A significant number of fish species that are being examined - dab, flounder, plaice, cod and whiting - are of key importance both commercially and ecologically."

Sandrine Vaz, from the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea and project leader for the French side, said the scheme would help towards the long-term sustainable management of the marine resources of the eastern part of the English Channel and the southern North Sea.

Main areas of work include the identification of fish eggs, cartography of spawning areas, and analysing the spatial drift of fish eggs.