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Marine Protected Areas: Fishing Vessels

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 33197, tabled on 14 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the activity of (a) supertrawlers, (b) bottom trawlers and (c) fly shooting in UK Marine Protected Areas with the Government’s aim to protect 30 per cent of UK oceans by 2030.

Answered on

19 July 2021

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a devolved competency and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities assess on a site by site basis which fishing activities could prevent them from achieving their conservation objectives and determine what management is required to meet the site conservation objectives.

'Supertrawlers' generally target pelagic species of fish within the water column and are unlikely to interact with the seabed habitats, such as reef and sediment habitats, for which most MPAs are designated. Both bottom trawlers and fly-shooters interact with the seabed and are therefore likely to impact seabed habitats. The compatibility of these activities will depend on the features protected in each site. If the site assessments conclude that this type of fishing poses a risk to the conservation objectives of a MPA, the relevant regulator would implement management measures.

Management measures will be introduced on a site by site basis to ensure that measures can be tailored to meet the conservation objectives of each site, without unnecessarily restricting fishing activity. We believe using byelaws, rather than fishing vessel licences, to manage fishing in MPAs is the best approach to further site conservation objectives. All existing MPAs in our offshore waters will be protected from fishing activities which could prevent them from achieving their conservation objectives through a three-year byelaw programme being undertaken by the MMO.

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