Today (6 January), we’ve released our Marine unProtected Areas report which found that bottom trawling is taking place in a worrying 98% of the UK’s offshore Marine Protected Areas designed to protect the seabed. As a result of the report, and the yearlong research which informed it, we’re calling for a ban on bottom trawling in these protected areas.
Bottom trawling is a method of fishing that can damage the seabed, kill animals and plants, and release carbon from the seafloor which can enter our atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
Out of all the UK’s Marine Protected Areas, just 5% currently ban bottom trawling (and only in inshore waters less than 12 miles from our coasts). Continuing to allow this fishing method in protected areas is equivalent to bulldozing a national park on land.
All but one of the offshore Marine Protected Areas, which are meant to safeguard the seabed, experienced bottom trawling and dredging between 2015 and 2018. Bottom trawl and dredge vessels spent at least 89,894 hours fishing the seabed inside Marine Protected Areas between 2015 and 2018.
By completely banning bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas designed to protect the seabed, it is possible for our seas to recover.
Within five years of protection from bottom trawling, animals in three UK and Isle of Man Marine Protected Areas were found to be larger and more diverse. And, when areas of sea around the world were fully protected, biodiversity was found to increase by an average of 21%.