This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government
Petition Ban super trawlers from fishing in UK waters.
Margiris, the second largest trawler in the world, was spotted off the coast of the Isle of Wight at the end of September.
The UK Government should work internationally to ban these trawlers and remove them from UK waters.
Weighing close to 9,500 tonnes, the mammoth commercial fishing vessel is designed to operate fishing trawls, which involves pulling a fishing net through a large body of water. It is thought to process 250 tonnes of fish a day.
Heavily regulated in some nations, trawling is widely criticised for its lack of selectivity, and the physical damage the trawl inflicts on the seabed. Australia has banned Margiris from operating in its waters.
This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website
This response was given on 8 September 2020
The Government has no immediate plans to ban super trawlers from UK waters. Leaving the CFP enables us to control access and make rules in UK waters to help develop a sustainable fisheries policy.
Read the response in full
The Government currently has no immediate plans to seek to ban super trawlers from UK waters. The UK is a global leader in the fight to protect our seas, with our ‘Blue Belt’ of protected waters, nearly twice the size of England. The Government is currently considering the recommendations of the Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas (areas of the sea that allow the protection and recovery of marine ecosystems).
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has restricted our ability to implement fisheries management measures within offshore Marine Protected Areas. The Fisheries Bill proposes a new power to allow the introduction of measures for conservation purposes.
We will automatically take back control of our waters, ending the right of other countries to fish in them at the end of 2020 when the transition period ends, and the UK formally leaves the CFP. For the first time in 40 years, we will be free to decide who can access our waters to fish and on what terms. Any access by non-UK vessels to fish in UK waters will be through a UK issued license.
Leaving the CFP gives us the opportunity to introduce a sustainable, responsive and resilient new fisheries policy. We will consider the sustainability of our stocks and our precious marine environment to take the steps necessary to allow them and our fishing industry, to flourish. As set out in the EU Withdrawal Agreement, during the Transition Period, we have agreed that we will continue to apply current fisheries rules and shared access to waters until the end of 2020.
The MMO continues to work hard to monitor fishing activity in English waters – with dedicated enforcement and surveillance work to protect fisheries, including offshore patrol vessels for at-sea surveillance. Not all fishing activities in marine protected areas require management – just those that are likely to damage the features of a site, typically such as trawling on the seabed.
The Fisheries Bill currently going through Parliament will help to protect our marine resources and develop plans to restore our fish stock back to more sustainable levels. This builds on a manifesto commitment which promised to introduce a legal commitment to fish sustainably as we become an independent coastal state once again. The Bill strengthens the MMO’s powers in a variety of areas, including ensuring that they can restore and enhance, as well as conserve, the marine environment in the offshore zone, and to continue to support the delivery of the Government’s Blue Belt Programme.
The Fisheries Bill prohibits any commercial fishing vessel (including foreign-registered vessels) from operating in UK waters without a licence. It also provides powers to attach conditions (such as the areas that can be fished, species that can be caught and the type of fishing gear that can be used) to fishing vessel licences. Foreign vessels operating in UK waters will have to follow UK rules, including the conditions that are attached to their commercial fishing licence.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276308)
Other parliamentary business
Original Government Response
While we are in the Common Fisheries Policy, the Margiris is legally entitled to fish in our waters. The Marine Management Organisation has inspected the vessel and found it compliant with the CFP.
While we are still part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) EU registered vessels such as the Margiris are legally entitled to fish in our waters. The vessel was inspected by the Marine Management Organisation on 2 October 2019 and found to be fishing in compliance with the CFP.
After leaving the EU, the UK will become an independent coastal state under international law and we will have the right to decide who fishes in our waters and on what terms. Any decisions about giving access to our waters for vessels from the EU, or any other coastal states, including trawlers such as the Margiris, will then be a matter for the UK to decide.
After we leave the EU, we expect to hold annual negotiations with the EU and third countries on access and fishing opportunities. We’ve been clear that all vessels will have to comply with UK rules.
The Government remains fully committed to sustainable fishing, including ending the wasteful discarding of fish. Our full approach is set out in the Sustainable fisheries for future generations White Paper, and 25 Year Environment Plan.
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
This response was given on 25 October 2019. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.