To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whjether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of a temporary ban on bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas whilst it monitors the impact of that practice on designated pilot sites.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.
The Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities assess on a site-by-site basis which fishing activities could prevent MPAs from achieving their conservation objectives. Byelaws are developed using an evidence-led process to determine what management is required to protect sites and to not unduly restrict legitimate fishing activity.
98 MPAs in English inshore waters already have byelaws in place to protect sensitive features from damaging fishing activities and the first four offshore byelaws have now been established. A Call for Evidence on byelaws in 13 more MPAs has recently closed. We aim to have protection in place for all our offshore MPAs by 2024. In July, we also launched a consultation on five candidate Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English waters. With the highest level of protection in England’s seas to enable the ecosystem to fully recover, many activities including commercial and recreational fishing would be prohibited. HPMAs would complement the existing MPA network. Any HPMAs HM Government decides to designate following the consultation would be designated by July 2023.
We are developing criteria to evaluate HPMAs from an ecological, social and economic perspective and intend to take a natural capital approach to evaluation. Our arms-length bodies will lead on monitoring pilot HPMAs.