supertrawlers uk MPAs COVID-19

Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena. One of the supertrawlers accused of intenisfied fishing in UK MPAs during th COVID-19 crisis.

A Greenpeace investigation reports that in the first six-months of 2020, supertrawlers almost doubled their fishing time in UK Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) compared to the whole of 2019. 

In their research Greenpeace say they found that in 2019, supertrawlers spent 2,963 hours fishing in 39 protected areas, while in the first six months of 2020 supertrawlers spent 5,590 hours fishing in 19 marine protected areas (MPAs). 

Greenpeace investigators used AIS tracking data from the Lloyd’s List Maritime Intelligence for all trawlers over 100m in operation in UK waters to assess how long they spent fishing in MPAs.

Supertrawler operations in the UK’s protected areas have risen significantly every year since 2017. In 2017, supertrawlers spent just 475 hours fishing in UK protected areas, compared to 5,590 hours in 2020. Some in the fishing community have attributed this increase in activity to Britain’s impending departure from the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). 

Supertrawlers are high intensity fishing vessels over 100m long, capable of catching and carrying thousands of tonnes of fish. 23 supertrawlers have been operating in UK waters in 2020 so far. None of these supertrawlers are UK owned.

Greenpeace has named the trawlers as:

ARCTICA – Russian Owned

KAPITAN DEMIDENKO – Russian Owned

KARELIA – Russian Owned

BALTIYSKAYA KOSA – Russian Owned

KAPITAN NAZIN – Russian Owned

ZAMOSKVORECHE – Russian Owned

LIRA – Russian Owned

LAZURNYY – Russian Owned

MAARTJE THEADORA – Dutch Owned

VALERIY DZHAPARIDZE – Russian Owned

NIVENSKOYE – Russian Owned

ANNELIES ILENA – Dutch Owned

YANTARNYY – Russian Owned

KAPITAN SULIMOV – Russian Owned  

KURSHSKAYA KOSA – Russian Owned

WILLEM VAN DER ZWAN – Dutch Owned

NAERABERG – Dutch Owned

AFRIKA – Dutch Owned

FRANK BONEFAAS – Dutch Owned

MEKHANIK SERGEY AGAP – Russian Owned

ZEELAND – Dutch Owned 

HELEN MARY – Dutch Owned

CAROLIEN – Dutch Owned

Chris Thorne, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Our Government cannot continue to allow supertrawlers to fish with ever increasing intensity in parts of our waters that are supposed to be protected. It must step in and put a stop to industrial supertrawler operations within our offshore marine protected areas, something which will be possible after Britain leaves the Common Fisheries Policy.

“Industrial fishing operations have no place in our protected areas. At least 30% of the UK’s waters should be off limits to all industrial fishing activity in a network of fully or highly protected marine areas. A good start towards achieving this would be to ban supertrawlers from fishing in our protected areas for thousands of hours every year.”

The British public overwhelmingly backs a ban on supertrawler operations in UK Marine Protected Areas. A YouGov poll showed that 4 in 5 UK adults back a ban, with support cutting across political divides. Last week over 50 MPs signed an open letter to the Environment Secretary urging him to commit to a ban on supertrawler operations in UK MPAs.

A ban on supertrawlers operating in UK MPAs would be the first step towards designating a network of fully or highly protected marine areas. These should cover at least 30% of the UK’s waters by 2030, to bring the UK in line with the 30×30 target of having 30% of the world’s oceans fully protected by 2030.

A Greenpeace petition, calling for a ban on supertrawlers operating in UK MPAs, has already gathered 213,000 signatures.

A link to the Greenpeace petition can be found here.

MPAs fished in in 2020:

Darwin Mounds

East Rockall Bank

Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt

Geikie Slide and Hebridean Slope

North Channel

North-east Faroe-Shetland Channel

North-west Orkney

Offshore Brighton

Pobie Bank Reef

Rosemary Bank Seamount

South West Deeps (East)

Southern North Sea

Swallow Sand

The Barra Fan and Hebrides Terrace Seamount

The Canyons

West Shetland Shelf

Western Channel

Wight-Barfleur Reef

Wyville Thomson Ridge

Year on year increase in supertrawler fishing time in UK Marine Protected Areas:

2017 – 475 hours

2018 – 1388 hours

2019 – 2963 hours

2020 (so far) – 5590 hours 

Source:Greenpeace

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs

Supertrawlers intensified operations in UK MPAs during COVID-19 crisis

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