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Seven hated supertrawlers have just been licensed to pillage UK waters


After January 1st Brexit day came around, Boris Johnson was quick to talk about how, now that we have left the European Union, we will be able to "ban these huge Hoover trawlers" which are pillaging our oceans.

Investigations have shown that these vessels, which include bottom trawlers that drag heavy fishing gear along the seabed and supertrawlers over 100m long, spend thousands of hours each year operating inside the UK’s so-called “protected areas” at sea. They threaten sensitive and important ecosystems and harm marine life.

However, words are cheap, and the Prime Minister’s words are undermined by the decision to grant licenses to at least SEVEN supertrawlers so they can continue fishing in the UK’s protected areas this year.

If the Prime Minister really means what he said, he must act and ban bottom trawlers and supertrawlers from all of the UK’s Marine Protected Areas.

This could be done immediately by using the UK’s renewed powers in the 2020 Fisheries Act to restrict the fishing licenses of any destructive vessels that are operating in our protected areas.

The Government is consulting on possible bottom trawling restrictions for five of the UK’s marine protected areas, including the Dogger Bank.

But this would not include supertrawlers and four of these five protected areas are subject to minimal fishing activity.

Allowing supertrawlers to fish in UK protected areas for almost 3,000 hours in 2019, or bottom trawlers to rip up protected areas of seabed for 122,000 hours in 2019, makes a mockery of the word “protected”.

The time has come for the Prime Minister to put his money where his mouth is, listen to the public, and immediately ban bottom trawlers and supertrawlers from all of the UK’s protected areas.