Marine Protected Areas: Fisheries

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15 June 2023.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment has she made of the potential impact of bottom-trawling in marine protected areas on the 30by30 initiative.

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

The 30by30 target, Target 3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, is a global target to protect 30% of the global ocean and of land by 2030. Nearly 8.3% of the global ocean is now protected. Achieving a global 30by30 target will require an international effort, from all countries and sectors and the UK is leading the way. In England, we have established a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering 40% of our waters, and we are now focusing on making sure they are properly protected.

Marine regulators make evidence-based, site by site assessments on the fishing activities that could prevent MPAs from achieving their conservation objectives. Nearly 60% of the 178 English MPAs are already protected from damaging fishing activity. This includes byelaws made last year, which ban bottom towed gear over sensitive features in the first four offshore sites. The Marine Management Organisation consulted earlier this year on similar proposals for a further 13 sites. We are aiming to have all MPAs in English waters protected from damaging fishing activity by 2024.

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