The UK government ban on bottom-fishing activities on the British part of the Dogger Bank has been met with outrage by Dutch fishermen

The UK ban on bottom-fishing activities on the British part of the Dogger Bank has been met with outrage by Dutch fishermen

The decision by the UK government to ban bottom-fishing activities on the British part of the Dogger Bank without consulting interested EU member states has been met with outrage by Dutch fishermen.

The closure will take effect on Monday 13 June 2022 and EU member states, like the Netherlands will find themselves locked-out of an area they have historically fished on in the North Sea.

“Earlier this year, England announced so-called conservation measures on the English part of the Dogger Bank, and England provided a clarifying explanation about the measures via the European Commission. Subsequently, the EU Member States have been asked to discuss the announced measures and the effective date, all the more so because some fisheries from EU Member States are being hit hard. On Wednesday 13 April 2022, England published the measures without the requested consultation,” says Dutch fishermen’s organisation Vissersbond.

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The byelaws are being introduced using new powers under the Fisheries Act, the UK’s first major domestic fisheries legislation in nearly 40 years. The new measures will prohibit fishing activities in MPAs where there is evidence that they harm wildlife or damage habitats.

The four byelaws ban the use of bottom trawls, dredges, demersal seines and semi-pelagic trawls, collectively known as bottom towed gear, over certain areas. There are also additional restrictions in two of the sites preventing the use of certain static gears such as pots, nets or lines over especially sensitive areas.

The byelaws will bring in management measures on fishing within these four MPAs in English waters:

  • Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation
  • Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation
  • South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone
  • The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone

The UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said:

“Outside the EU, we are using our new freedoms to protect our marine environment. We will be stopping trawling and dredging in these Marine Protected Areas to protect wildlife and habitats, through powers we have in our Fisheries Act 2020.”

The decision to stop bottom fishing on the Dogger Bank has caused upset and outrage amongst Dutch fishermen.

“According to the British, the ban on fishing that disturbs the bottom is necessary to protect the so-called ‘marine protected areas (MPAs)’ against damage caused by fishing activities,” says Visserbond.

Durk van Tuinen of the Dutch Fishermen’s Association/PO Delta South team said, “Recently we were unpleasantly surprised by the imminent closure for beam trawling in Norwegian waters and now this step follows.”

According to Van Tuinen, it is worrying to see such closures being implemented without a correct process as used in the EU.

Visserbond says that together with VisNed/PO Urk, the Nederlandse Vissersbond/PO Delta Zuid it has put questions to the European Commission via Dutch MEPs who hold a seat in the fisheries committee.

“In addition, in the context of EBFA, EAPO and Europêche, the organisations that include the cooperations of EU fisheries organisations, action is being taken towards the European TCA. In this case, the European Commission is the party that should communicate with the UK about this,” concludes Visserbond.

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Dutch fishermen outraged by UK decision to ban bottom-fishing on Dogger Bank

by editor time to read: 6 min