To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the continued operation of extractive industries within Marine Protected Areas; and what assessment they have made of the case for banning (1) bottom trawling, and (2) dredging, within those areas.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.
The Marine Management Organisation, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and other regulators assess on a site-by-site basis which activities could prevent MPAs from achieving their conservation objectives. Byelaws and other measures are developed using an evidence-led process to determine what management is required to protect sites and to not unduly restrict legitimate activity.
Nearly 60% of our 178 English MPAs are already protected from damaging fishing activity, including byelaws introduced in 2022 in the first four offshore sites, which ban bottom towed gear over sensitive habitats. A consultation covering a further 13 sites closed on 28 March 2023 and the responses received are being considered. We are aiming to have all MPAs in English waters protected from damaging fishing activity by 2024.