Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K., super trawlers have increased their activities in protected waters. According to a report released by Greenpeace, the massive fishing vessels have spent far more time in protected marine areas in the first half of 2020 compared to all of 2019. In March, when countries in Europe started imposing lockdown measures, many small vessel fishers were put out of business. But while the small vessels docked, super trawlers took advantage of open waters, including in protected marine areas.

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According to the Greenpeace report, the amount of time super trawlers spent in the U.K.’s protected waters in the first six months of 2020 is nearly double the time super trawlers spent fishing in the same areas last year. The vessels in question are more than 100 meters in length, and each is capable of catching and ferrying thousands of metric tons of fish.

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The report revealed that during the first half of this year, super trawlers spent more than 5,590 hours in 19 of the country’s protected marine areas. In 2019, the super trawlers spent 2,963 hours in 39 protected marine areas in the U.K. Further, the data also shows a significant increase in the amount of time super trawlers have spent in protected waters since 2017. In 2017, super trawlers spent 475 hours of the entire year in protected marine areas.

Greenpeace and other conservation groups are now calling for a total ban on large-scale fishing in such protected areas. Of more concern to the organization is the fact that most of the vessels fishing in these protected areas do not belong to the U.K.

“Our government cannot continue to allow super trawlers to fish with ever-increasing intensity in parts of our waters that are supposed to be protected,” Chris Thorne of Greenpeace U.K. said. “At least 30% of the U.K. waters should be off-limits to all industrial fishing activity, in a network of fully or highly protected marine areas.”

In its investigation, Greenpeace used data from automatic identification system satellites. The investigators used the data to track all ships with a length of over 100 meters. The data also monitored the speed of movement of the ships to determine when they were fishing. The data was cross-referenced by the data provided by the vessels.

+ Greenpeace

Via The Guardian

Image via Moritz320