Marine Protected Areas: Fishing Vessels

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 18th June 2021.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of banning bottom trawlers and supertrawlers from Marine Protected Areas.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

It is essential that all damaging activities are prevented in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Not all fishing activities will require management, only those likely to damage the designated features of a MPA, such as trawling on the seabed. 'Supertrawlers' generally target fish within the water column and so are unlikely to damage the seabed habitats for which most MPAs are designated.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities assess each MPA site and develop appropriate management measures. 98 MPAs in inshore waters now have management measures in place to protect sensitive features from bottom towed fishing gears. For MPAs in our offshore waters, the MMO has embarked on an ambitious three-year programme to fully manage any harmful fishing activity.

On 8 June 2021, the Government published its response to the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). The Government accepted the central recommendation that we should take forward some pilot sites and we will designate these next year. HPMAs prohibit extractive, destructive, and depositional uses, allowing only non-damaging levels of other activities to the extent permitted by international law. As such, bottom trawlers and super trawlers would not be permitted to fish in HPMAs.

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