Ban them now! Brexiteer demands UK outlaw EU supertrawlers plundering marine life
Brexit: John Redwood urges Boris to ‘ban’ EU super trawlers
The environmental campaigners have regularly pushed for restrictions on the huge ships, including the Dutch-flagged Margiris, particularly in relation to specially designated Marine Protection Areas (MPAs), while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also signalled that he was keen to see the vessels excluded now the UK has quit the bloc and is no longer subject to the Common Fisheries Policy. And Sir John, a prominent member of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG), which was instrumental in delivering Brexit, used Twitter to make a similar point.
They say they do not have a definition of such trawlers. Not difficult to invent one
He posted: “Time for the government to ban very large foreign trawlers with large and heavy gear damaging our fish stocks and marine environment.
“They say they do not have a definition of such trawlers. Not difficult to invent one.”
Supertrawlers including the Margiris are frequent visitors to UK waters, and although there is no suggestion they are operating illegally, environmentalists blame them for the deaths of dolphins and other marine wildlife.
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Speaking earlier this month, Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Brexit meant the UK “will be able to ban these huge hoover trawlers that come in and hoover up everything off the bottom of the sea”.
A petition calling for a ban which is currently on the UK Government’s website now has more than 46,000 signatures.
It states: ”We request that the Government proposes a ban on supertrawlers from UK waters after the UK becomes an Independent Coastal State and is no longer restricted by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which allowed these huge vessels to decimate fish stocks and endanger marine ecosystems and species.
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“Supertrawlers are factory sized fishing vessels over 100m which trail nets a mile-long catching thousands of tonnes of fish including bycatch and protected species including cetaceans.
“Foreign-owned supertrawlers are regularly decimating the UK’s fish stocks and endanger protected marine species.
“In 2019 such vessels fished in 39 of the UK’s marine protected areas, while in the first six months of 2020 a total of 23 supertrawlers (mostly Dutch and Russian) fished in 19 marine protected areas.
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Having secured 10,000 signatures, the Government is legally required to respond.
If the petition attracts 100,000, Parliament will be required to debate the issue.
Chris Thorne, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, commented: “The British public have made their position clear, with over 300,000 people backing a Greenpeace petition calling for supertrawlers to be banned from the UK’s protected areas.
“This new petition, which has already gathered tens of thousands of signatures, shows that the UK Government should also be thinking deeply about whether these vast floating fish factories have any place in UK waters at all.
“While a complete ban would be a huge boost to marine life in UK waters, if the Government takes this step it must work with international partners to ensure this destructive fishing activity doesn’t simply move to other, equally sensitive, parts of our oceans.
“The Government must deliver on its Brexit promise to take back control of our waters and become a world leader in marine protection.
“At the very least it should immediately ban supertrawlers and bottom trawlers from all of the UK’s protected areas, and seriously consider whether supertrawlers have any place in UK waters at all.”
Earlier this year a Defra spokeswoman said: “The UK is a global leader in the fight to protect our seas with our ‘Blue Belt’ of protected waters nearly twice the size of England.
“The Common Fisheries Policy currently restricts our ability to implement tougher protection, but leaving the EU and taking back control of our waters as an independent coastal state means we can introduce stronger measures.”
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