UK government mulls ban on fishing in 13 marine protected areas

The latest stage of proposed measures to protect further valuable marine habitats and manage harmful fishing activity in England’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were unveiled by the UK government on Tuesday, January 17.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is delivering a programme to protect all 40 English offshore MPAs from harmful fishing activity by 2024, with by-laws already in place in key sites including Dogger Bank and The Canyons.

In the latest stage of the programme, the MMO launched a consultation on a proposed by-law to ban bottom-towed gear in 13 more MPAs to protect vital marine ecosystems covering an area of over 4,000 square kilometres. Combined with existing MMO by-laws, this will bring the total area protected from bottom-towed gear by MMO byelaws to almost 18,000 square kilometres.

Locations that would gain protection include Cape Bank, home to ecologically important species such as pea urchins and a type of starfish called a cushion star; Haig Fras, a site that supports a variety of fauna ranging from jewel anemones and solitary corals; and Goodwin Sands, home to rocky habitats that support species such as pinks sea fans, cup corals and commercially important shellfish and fish.

The consultation will run alongside a call for evidence to gather views on the impacts of anchored nets and lines, bottom-towed fishing gear, and traps on valuable marine features such as reefs and sandbanks across England’s MPA network.


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