Marine Environment

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29 March 2023.

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Photo of Virginia Crosbie Virginia Crosbie Conservative, Ynys Môn

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to protect (a) puffins, (b) kittiwakes and \(c) other marine life from the industrial fishing of their food source of sandeels; and whether she is taking steps to (i) ban and (ii) restrict supertrawlers from access to UK waters.

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

The Government is concerned about the effects on the marine ecosystem from the removal of forage fish, like sandeels, by industrial fishing. Defra is presently consulting on spatial management measures for industrial fishing for sandeel in English waters of the North Sea. These proposed measures will deliver greater resilience for our sandeel stocks, as well as species which rely on them as a food source, including vulnerable seabirds, commercially valuable fish and marine mammals.

We are considering our policies for large pelagic trawlers, commonly known as supertrawlers, and working to develop more robust management of the non-quota species which these vessels are targeting alongside quota stocks. Any action needs to be evidence-based and in line with the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) continues to monitor fishing activity in English waters with dedicated enforcement and surveillance work to protect fisheries, including offshore patrol vessels for at-sea surveillance.

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