Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to ban supertrawlers in UK waters by environmental campaigners.
An investigation has uncovered that supertrawlers are using evasive fishing techniques and the Blue Marine Foundation found that Dutch electric pulse and beam trawlers have been fishing in the Haisborough and North Norfolk marine protected areas.
They also found that UK and German-flagged fishing boats have been using the electric pulse trawling methods which involves dragging electrodes over the seabed to shock the fish in the sediment into the nets.
Beam trawling involves a heavy bar with tickler chains across the seabed, but this is not yet banned, until 1 July 2021.
Executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, Charles Clover said, “Pulse trawling is devastating for the environment and not fit to be used in any part of the ocean.
“So, it is deeply alarming to discover that pulse vessels are fishing in the UK’s own marine protected areas.
“It’s time for the UK to step up after Brexit and fix the Fisheries Bill so that these pulse trawlers are banned for good, not just banned in some parts of the UK and not others.”
Paul Lines, chairman of the Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance said, “Without immediate enforcement of offshore protected areas the rejuvenation of inshore fisheries will suffer.
“We had hoped removal of damaging beam trawling would lead to recruitment to inshore zones and within the reach of our vessels.
“The laws must be applied now, not in two or ten years’ time when it will be too late.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said, “We are putting sustainable fishing and protection of our seas and sea life at the heart of our future fishing strategy.
“This is why we have already put in place a ‘blue belt’ of protected waters nearly twice the size of England.
“The Fisheries Bill proposes a new power to allow the introduction of measures for conservation purposes, which will enable us to better manage our Marine Protected Areas.”