Harmful fishing off Skegness will be banned under new government laws to protect lobsters and prawns
New laws to end harmful fishing techniques off the coast of Lincolnshire have been announced in a move widely welcomed by environmental campaigners. The government has drawn up regulations to protect four marine protected areas across England, one of which is the Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation.
This site is located off the south coast of Lincolnshire, close to Skegness, with its sandbars and reefs home to wildlife including lobsters, crabs and prawns. The government used evidence, including fisheries sighting data and online surveys, to conclude that new regulations were needed in the area to protect it.
The government says bottom towed fishing will be banned on the reef and sandbar, and all static gear will be banned in all reef areas. Although generally welcomed by activists, some have argued that protecting the inner dowsing zone does not go far enough.
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Melissa Moore, UK policy manager at conservation group Oceana, said: “It’s good news that the government has finally taken the first step to managing four of its 64 offshore MPAs, given that damaging activities such as bottom trawling are prohibited in MPAs under Oceana’s analysis found over 68,337 fishing hours using bottom towed gear in these offshore MPAs in 2020.”
She said Oceana fully supported the Dogger Bank settlement which would protect the North Sea region and benefit its ecosystem, but warned the Inner Dowsing MPA settlement was ‘tiny’ and would not protect the website. Among the measures that activists said were still needed was a ban on “destructive industrial fishing boats“.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Outside the EU, we are using our new freedoms to protect our marine environment. We will stop trawling and dredging in these marine protected areas to protect wildlife and habitats, through the powers we have in our Fisheries Act 2020.”