Thank you to everyone who has been in touch again about supertrawler activity in our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
I am aware of research by Greenpeace that found supertrawlers spent almost 3,000 hours fishing within UK MPAs in 2019. More recently, Greenpeace has found that this activity has almost doubled, with supertrawlers spending some 5,590 hours fishing in UK MPAs in the first six months of 2020.
In the face of declining marine biodiversity and given the central importance of our oceans in combating the climate crisis, it is critical that UK waters and the species that live there are properly protected. I therefore agree that we should ban supertrawlers from fishing in our MPAs and I believe this should have happened already.
The Opposition recently tabled an amendment to the Government’s Fisheries Bill to ban supertrawlers over 100 metres from fishing in MPAs. Not only do I think this would be beneficial for our oceans and marine biodiversity, I also believe it would benefit our own fishing industry and small boat fleet. Indeed, the vast majority of fishing by supertrawlers in UK waters is by foreign-owned vessels. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected by the Government.
In my view, the Government faces a simple choice: it must decide whether it is on the side of British fishers, or foreign-owned industrial supertrawlers which harvest huge quantities of fish and plunder our marine habitats.
You may also be interested in this response on supertrawlers I posted in August.