Government uses Brexit freedoms to protect our seas

Harmful fishing activities will be banned in four new marine protected areas (MPAs), the government announced today. The move was made possible by new post-Brexit freedoms that allow the government to protect rare habitats and wildlife in UK waters.

The statutes, which have been the subject of wide consultation with industry and other stakeholders, will come into force in two months (June 13, 2022).

They are introduced using new powers under the Fisheries Act, the first major UK national fisheries legislation for nearly 40 years. The new measures will prohibit fishing activities in MPAs where they are proven to harm wildlife or damage habitats.

The four orders prohibit the use of bottom trawls, dredges, demersal seines and semi-pelagic trawls, collectively referred to as bottom towed gear, in certain areas. There are also additional restrictions at two of the venues preventing the use of certain static gear such as traps, nets or lines on particularly sensitive areas.

The decrees will provide fisheries management measures within these four MPAs in English waters:

  • Dogger Bank Special Area of ​​Conservation
  • Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of ​​Conservation
  • South Dorset Marine Conservation Area
  • The Canyons Marine Conservation Area

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“Outside the EU, we are using our new freedoms to protect our marine environment. We will stop trawling and dredging in these marine protected areas to protect wildlife and habitats, through the powers we have in our Fisheries Act 2020.”

MMO CEO Tom McCormack said:

“Many of our coastal Marine Protected Areas are already protected by MMO and Coastal Fisheries and Conservation Authority regulations.

“The Fisheries Act includes new powers to allow us to better manage and control fishing in our offshore marine protected areas.

“These new regulations represent the next step in our nature recovery journey, ensuring that our marine life can recover and thrive.”

The first four MPAs were chosen as a priority to help protect their dynamic and productive underwater environments. They include the Dogger Bank Special Area of ​​Conservation, which has the largest shallow sandbar in UK waters and is home to commercial fish species such as cod and plaice, as well as sandeels which are an important food source for kittiwakes, puffins and porpoises. They also include the Canyons Marine Conservation Area which protects rare and highly sensitive deep-sea corals.

The names of the statutes are:

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