Scallop dredgers and trawlers to be excluded from a quarter of inshore waters

scallops2Until now, government officials have interpreted fishing as an existing activity which did not require an environmental assessment.

Under pressure from the environmental groups ClientEarth and the Marine Conservation Society, who mounted a legal campaign, they have been forced to change that interpretation.”

The new legal ruling has been made for European marine sites in England, but it is understood that it will apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and to fishermen from other countries, such as Belgium and France, fishing in European protected marine sites in UK waters.

Melissa Moore from the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We hope that the proposals mean that at last damaging fisheries such as trawling and scallop dredging are halted in most European marine sites, starting with threatened reef habitats.

“This will be good for the inshore fleet that fish at sustainable levels using pots and static gear and need these reefs intact, as well for marine biodiversity. We will work with government bodies to ensure byelaws are introduced as swiftly as possible.

“I think most members of the public would be astounded that damaging fisheries are presently permitted in protected areas. Government’s new approach should mean that 46 sites around England should soon be better protected. We hope that the devolved nations will soon follow suite and similarly protect the other 49 sites around the UK.”

This will no doubt add to the pressure already being applied to Marine Scotland to actually protect some of the Special Areas of Conservation areas they are already supposed to be protecting.

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