Call to ban super trawlers from ‘looting’ protected seas around Cornwall
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has called on the government to restrict so-called giant ‘super trawlers’ like a pair seen fishing off Cornwall.
He warns that ships are allowed to “plunder our seas” and wants them banned from protected areas.
The campaign group was responding to the government’s consultation on post-Brexit fisheries policy.
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The government has authorized eight trawlers over 100 meters registered in Europe to fish in British waters. The huge vessels that process and freeze their catch are accused of killing dolphins and porpoises that feed on the fish they target in nets that can stretch for more than a mile.
There was widespread anger last week at the sighting of Afrika and Zeeland, both registered in the Netherlands, being seen 15-20 miles off the north Cornish coast.
The boats, both over 100 meters in length, are licensed to fish in the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends from the UK’s 12-mile limit out to 200 miles.
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They mainly target species that swim in the middle of the ocean, such as horse mackerel, herring, blue whiting, all of which have country-specific catch limits, and out-of-quota species such as sardines.
This means they are less likely to damage the seabed, but there is no information on bycatch such as cetaceans like dolphins and porpoises.
A comment on Twitter said: “I expect the dolphins here to get hurt. Nothing is a chance.”
Environmental activist George Monbiot posted a link to CornwallLive’s story about the ships and said: ‘…why do we ALWAYS allow these monstrous ships to rampage through our waters and, it seems, slaughter a large number of dolphins?
There are a series of marine protected areas around the coast of Devon and Cornwall, designed to protect sensitive environments and animals, including seabed structures such as reefs and creatures such as harbor porpoises.
Labor has tried to ban boats over 100 meters from vulnerable and protected UK waters in the post-Brexit Fisheries Act, which became law in November 2020.
The Conservative government rejected this decision, arguing that the new law gave it the power to restrict fishing areas and the equipment used.
It has now begun consultations on a legally binding set of fisheries policies under the act.
Greenpeace says the government should immediately ban “industrial fishing boats” from marine protected areas.
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A Greenpeace study found that in the first six months of 2020 supertrawlers operated for more than 5,500 people in marine protected areas, Labor MP Matt Rodda told the House of Commons during a debate on the legislation.
Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said she acknowledged “considerable concerns” about the super trawlers, but said the law would give the government the power to restrict the boats.
The Labor ban proposal was defeated after the October 2020 debate.
Ms Prentis told MPs: ‘The Fisheries Bill provides the power to attach conditions, such as areas that can be fished and the type of fishing gear that can be used, to fishing vessel licenses.
“Foreign vessels licensed to fish in UK waters will have to follow UK rules – including, of course, our conditions. Where vessels fail to comply with the terms of their licences, action can be taken to restrict or prohibit their future activities. .
This week the government announced a three-month consultation on the Joint Fisheries Declaration, described as a “key element” of the Fisheries Act 2020.
The declaration sets out the legally binding policies that the UK and devolved governments will follow, at UK level and individually.
Rebecca Newsom, Policy Officer at Greenpeace UK, said: “The status quo is failing our oceans and the people who depend on them, but these proposals have none of the urgency the crisis along our coastline demands.
“There’s a lot of green rhetoric out there, but the actual conservation measures spelled out here may leave us with little to conserve.
“Government claims of an ‘ecosystem’ and ‘precautionary’ approach to fisheries management are undermined by the fact that they continue to allow even the largest industrial fishing vessels to plunder our seas, including in the so-called marine protected areas.
“If ministers are serious about the aims of the Fisheries Act, they should immediately use Britain’s new Brexit freedoms to end the licensing of industrial fishing vessels in MPAs and ban shooting entirely. fly across the English Channel and the southern North Sea. It would be a real protection.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: ‘As an independent coastal state, we can now review which vessels, including super trawlers, can access and fish in our waters.
“The new licensing framework in the Fisheries Act allows us to apply conditions to the activities of all fishing vessels in our waters – regardless of their nationality – and will have to comply with UK sustainability rules. and access to our “blue belt” of protected waters.”
Defra said the joint fisheries statement sets out three main areas:
protect and, if necessary, rebuild our fish stocks
reduce the effects of fishing on the marine and coastal environment
support a modern, resilient and environmentally friendly fishing industry.
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Environment Secretary George Eustice, MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, said: ‘The Fisheries Act has given us the power to implement our own independent fisheries policy, improve our marine environment and make decisions based on the health of our fish stocks and not vested interests.
“Today we are setting out our common vision for a sustainable fishing industry that benefits our fishermen, the environment and the whole Union.
“We have regained control of our waters, and a year after the trade and cooperation agreement, a positive image is emerging for our fishing industry.
“We have seen an increase in quota which will be around £146m by 2026 and we are investing £100m in coastal communities so they can benefit from better infrastructure, new jobs and jobs. investment in skills.”