I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have raised with me their concerns about large industrial fishing vessels known as ‘supertrawlers’ operating in the UK’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). MPAs are intended to protect habitats such as kelp forest which support our waters’ marine life. However, an investigation found that supertrawlers spent 2,963 hours in 2019 fishing in MPAs. Further evidence suggests that during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown period, whilst most smaller vessels were
confined to port, supertrawlers increased trawling time in protected areas.
I support the banning of supertrawlers from MPAs. Last year just 59% of British fish stocks were fished at sustainable levels, a reduction of 10% on the previous year. Labour are calling for better monitoring of trawling activity, which must be backed up by greater enforcement. The UK is currently establishing its own fisheries policy as we transition away from European Union agreement of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Government have said that this is an opportunity to bring about better fisheries management measures through their Fisheries Bill. The Labour Party will continue to hold the Government to account on fisheries policy.