Marine Protected Areas: Fisheries

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 28th September 2022.

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Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department is taking steps to prevent bottom trawling in offshore Marine Protected Areas while the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction discusses a potential maritime biodiversity treaty.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In line with UN resolutions and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Guidelines, the United Kingdom is committed to working within the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to which it is a member, to protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and ensure the long-term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks in the high seas.

Domestically, the UK is at the forefront of marine protection with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) protecting over 38% of UK waters.

We have developed an ambitious programme for assessing sites and implementing regulations to manage fishing activity, including bottom trawling, in all 40 English offshore MPAs.

The first 4 offshore regulations have recently been announced and involve a complete ban on bottom trawling in two of the sites, one of which - the Dogger Bank - covers some 12,000km2, and partial bans in the other two where sensitive seabed features occur.

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