Fleetwood MP Cat Smith has joined other campaigners in calling on the UK government to ban super trawlers from protected areas in the English Channel.
Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith
The Lancaster and Fleetwood MP has joined together with local fishing businesses, Greenpeace UK, the Angling Trust and New Economics Foundation, calling on the UK government to take immediate and urgent action to protect coastal livelihoods and the health of our oceans.
Their statement calls for an immediate and permanent ban on supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly-shooters in the 10 offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) designated in the English Channel.
Ms Smith is also calling for an immediate ban on pelagic trawlers and fly-shooters across the entire English Channel and Southern North Sea, subject to a full and thorough assessment of the environmental and local economic impacts of both fishing methods.
She has also called for additional support for fishermen operating within the 6-12 nautical mile zone of the English Channel and Southern North Sea, in light of the threat posed by large scallopers and large beamers.
She said: “The UK’s oceans and coastal communities are in crisis.
“Just one third of our fish populations are in a healthy state. Industrial fishing vessels like supertrawlers and fly-shooters have immense catching capacity and are pushing marine ecosystems and fish populations to the brink of collapse.
“This often leaves local fishermen with nothing left to catch. Without urgent action, our oceans will be damaged beyond repair and our fishing communities won’t survive.”
Supertrawler fishing activity in MPAs almost doubled in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 levels.
Marine scientists globally agree that 30 percent full protection is the absolute minimum required for marine and ocean ecosystem survival.
Scientific studies have shown that fully or highly protected MPAs don’t just benefit the marine ecosystems within their boundaries – they also provide important breeding, feeding and nursery grounds that have a spill over effect to surrounding waters, thereby helping to revitalise fish stocks.
The MP added: “Local, low-impact fishers therefore benefit from this as they would see increases to their catch, helping the fishing industry to bounce back.
“Under the new Fisheries Act, the Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to act decisively to ban the most destructive forms of fishing from our waters once and for all.”