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French Minister Hervé Berville has called for dialogue between the EU and the UK over its expansion of marine protected areas

French Minister Hervé Berville has called for dialogue between the European Commission and the United Kingdom regarding recent decisions to expand marine protected areas (MPAs), which impact French fishing vessels’ activities in certain zones.

Speaking during the informal meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union, Minister Berville emphasised the need for swift engagement between the Commission and London in response to the fishing ban imposed by the UK.

The French Minister warned the meeting, “”The Commission must enter into dialogue with London as soon as possible.”

While unable to attend the informal Council held in Bruges due to travel commitments in French Guiana, Secretary of State for the Sea and Biodiversity, Hervé Berville, voiced concerns over the fishing restrictions announced by the UK government.

The recent ordinance introduced by the British government prohibits bottom trawling fishing gear in 13 MPAs in English waters, marking a significant step towards protecting rare, threatened, and important species and habitats.

Covering approximately 4,000 square kilometres, these MPAs are home to valuable reef and rock habitats, safeguarded from the detrimental impacts of bottom trawling fishing gear.

The 13 MPAs covered by the new ordinance are the following:

  • Cape Bank
  • East of Haig Fras
  • East Farnes
  • Foreland
  • Haig Fras
  • Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton
  • Hartland Point to Tintagel
  • Goodwin Sands
  • Land’s End and Cape Bank
  • North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef
  • Brighton coast
  • South Celtic Deep
  • Wight-Barfleur Reef


Among the MPAs affected are well-known areas such as Cape Bank, Haig Fras, and Brighton Coast. These regions harbour vulnerable species such as pink sea fans, Ross’s worm reefs, and fragile sponges, essential for marine ecosystems’ health and commercial fish populations.

Michelle Willis, Acting Director General of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), hailed the expansion of protected areas, highlighting the government’s commitment to safeguarding marine ecosystems. The move marks a significant milestone in the UK’s ambitious program to protect all 54 English high seas MPAs from fishing activity by the end of 2024.

Marine Minister Lord Benyon reaffirmed the government’s dedication to ocean conservation, emphasising collaboration with the fishing sector and other stakeholders to ensure effective protection of marine sites.

As discussions continue regarding the implications of fishing restrictions in British waters, Minister Berville’s call for dialogue underscores the importance of cooperative efforts in managing marine resources and balancing conservation with fishing interests.

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