The UK’s Marine Protected Areas are at severe risk from “destructive industrial fishing vessels” such as “supertrawlers,” which are also decimating British fishing waters.
58 MPs, including the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab have on Monday, joined calls for the government to ban supertrawlers and other destructive industrial fishing vessels from fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas.
The cross-party group of MPs, along with scientists, campaigners and influencers, have signed an open letter to the Environment Secretary George Eustice, urging him to ban industrial fishing vessels from operating inside the UK.
The UK’s most ecologically sensitive marine areas must be protected, and the government must ensure that marine protection is a top priority when Britain leaves the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.
The letter, coordinated by Greenpeace UK, has also been signed by Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn, Dr Emma Cavan, Joanna Lumley, Michael Palin, Gillian Anderson and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, amongst many others.
The letter calls on the British government to “ensure that protection of the environment and the livelihoods of the UK’s coastal communities are the top priority when Britain becomes an independent coastal state.”
The government are being urged to “ban destructive industrial fishing vessels like supertrawlers from fishing in the UK’s Marine Protection Areas.”
Speaking to LondonLovesBusiness, Philip Evans, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK warned, “The writing is on the wall, supertrawlers have no place in our most sensitive and ecologically important waters.
“Allowing these floating fish factories to operate in our Marine Protected Areas undermines the Government’s vision for ocean protection both at home and on the world stage.
“This government must heed the call from MPs, scientists, campaigners and one of its own cabinet ministers, and commit to a ban on supertrawlers and other destructive vessels operating in UK MPAs.
“This would pave the way for a network of fully or highly protected marine areas covering at least 30% of UK waters, and demonstrate that this government is serious about being a world leader on marine protection.”
The letter comes after a Greenpeace investigation revealed that supertrawlers, industrial fishing vessels over 100m long, spend thousands of hours each year fishing in supposedly protected parts of the UK’s waters.
“No supertrawlers are UK owned. All operate in UK Marine Protected Areas legally. Polling by YouGov has also shown that four in five members of the British public back a supertrawler ban in Marine Protected Areas.
Greenpeace is calling on the UK government to ban supertrawlers and other destructive industrial fishing vessels from operating in UK Marine Protected Areas using new powers to manage UK waters after leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.
A Greenpeace petition calling for a supertrawler ban has gathered over 213,000 signatures since June.