It is concerning to learn that, last year, supertrawlers spent 2,963 hours fishing within the UK’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA).
In the face of declining marine biodiversity and given the central importance of our oceans in combating the climate crisis, it is critical that we ensure that UK waters and the species that live there are properly protected. I want to see 30% of the world’s oceans protected by 2030 and greater steps taken towards making all our seas truly sustainable, which is why I will be supporting legislative action in Parliament.
The UK Government says that the Fisheries Bill proposes a new power to allow the introduction of measures for conservation purposes within MPAs. The Bill is scheduled for debate in the House of Commons in September.
I will be supporting an amendment to the Fisheries Bill that will prevent supertrawlers from fishing in Marine Protected Areas. These areas are designated for protection to protect our precious biodiversity, and we should do all we can to safeguard that.
I will also be supporting an amendment for a National Landing Requirement, so that at least 50% of fish caught in British waters are landed in the UK – whereas most supertrawlers land their fish in Denmark or other European countries. I will be looking to make sure we redistribute the UK fishing quota to smaller vessels, away from supertrawlers. This would mean more jobs in our fishing communities and would make fishing more sustainable.
I am also aware that the recent Benyon review has called for the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA) within English waters, going further than MPAs by taking a ‘whole site approach’ and banning damaging activities like fishing, construction and dredging.
We need to ensure the language we use around marine protection is accessible, so that people can understand exactly why these habitats are protected. I support using the umbrella designation of a National Marine Park to help simplify the dizzying array of marine protections.
I believe we should roll out National Marine Parks across the UK, working with the devolved administrations and local authorities, to ensure our most important coastal habitats are properly protected.
We must ensure that our fishing practices are sustainable, so that our fish populations and fishing industry can continue to exist for generations to come.