UK: Restriction destructive bottom-towed fishing in Marine Protected Areas

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+ Closure North Sea sandeel fishery

UK government delivers on measures to accelerate nature recovery to protect land and sea

It is due to UK leadership that the global target to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, known as 30by30 was adopted and these announcements will further support that target and the historic agreement for nature reached by the UK and nearly 200 countries at the 2022 UN Biodiversity summit.

Restriction destructive bottom-towed fishing in Marine Protected Areas

On Wednesday 31st January the government announced that damaging commercial fishing will be restricted in thirteen marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect reef and rock habitats. The first 4 offshore MPA byelaws were implemented in 2022. 

Bottom trawling is known to be highly damaging due to its destructive impact on seafloor habitats, leading to habitat loss, biodiversity decline, and disruption of ecosystems. The method’s indiscriminate nature results in significant bycatch, contributes to overfishing, and can disturb carbon-sequestering habitats, causing long-term ecological and economic consequences. 

Sea anglers across the country are witnessing declines in fish populations. Recreational sea angling – and the livelihoods and communities it supports – depends on abundant fish stocks. Measures to restore the marine environment after decades of commercial damage and overexploitation are essential and highly welcomed.

The UK currently has 377 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) protecting 38% of UK waters. In English waters 181 sites are protecting 40% of our seas. The majority of these sites are not properly protected from damaging commercial activities.

Closure North Sea sandeel fishery

The government also announced the closure of the North Sea sandeel fishery in English waters for both UK and non-UK commercial vessels. The English waters of the North Sea will be closed for commercial sandeel fishing before the start of the season on 1 April. UK vessels are not permitted to fish for sandeel because the UK’s share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for North Sea sandeel is not allocated. The spatial closure will extend that prohibition to all vessels operating in English waters of the North Sea.


Source: Angling Trust. Click here to read the full article