Supertrawlers are leaving fisherman 'at the brink' says activist
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Fishing communities across the North Sea and the Channel have reported devastating damage to protected areas and fishing stocks due to large industrial boats operating in those areas. Greenpeace activist Fiona Nicholls launched an appeal to Boris Johnson demanding immediate Government action to ban the mostly EU-owned boats, often coming in from abroad, to safeguard green areas. Speaking to Sky News, Ms Nicholls said: “Over the last few months, Greenpeace has been out in the Channel patrolling supposedly green protected areas as part of our Operation Ocean Witness campaign.
“We found it’s basically an industrial free fall for these really large fishing boats, many of whom are not from the UK.
“We’ve also had the privilege to talk to loads of fishermen from coastal communities and their livelihoods are being absolutely devastated by this industrial activity.
“Something needs to change, and urgently. That is why we’re launching, together with fishermen from the east and south, a declaration of an emergency.
“This is a situation that needs addressing and fast. We need Government to immediately and permanently ban industrial fishing like bottom trawlers, super trawlers, and a newly-observed method of fishing called fly shooting.”
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Ms Nicholls continued: “And that needs to be a bare minimum, protected areas need to be protected.
“But in addition to this, based off the conversations we’ve had with fishermen, we’re also calling on the Government to go further than this and ban fly shooting from the rest of the southern North Sea and the Channel.
“Provide some respite not only just for fish but for fishermen who’ve been hit relentlessly hit by industrial fishing in UK waters.”
Jerry Percy, director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, said: “It’s really quite simple – the small-scale coastal fleet that the Government has sworn to protect is now forced to watch their present and future livelihoods being destroyed in front of their eyes.”
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Graham Doswell, a third-generation fisherman in Eastbourne, who has been fishing on the Sussex coast all his working life, said it has gradually got harder and harder in the past decade.
“I think, unless something really, really drastically is done, I think it’s going to be difficult for everybody to carry on making a living.”
“What is being done to keep our fishing vessels and those onboard them safer?”
It comes as fishermen in Scotland also reported foreign vessels for “dangerous” behaviour in UK waters.
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Scottish Lib Dems MSP Beatrice Wishart confronted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday over reports of European fishermen dumping gear overboard.
Ms Wishart said: “There are reports of non-UK fishing vessels…dumping all their fishing gear overboard
“This is dangerous as well as bad for the marine environment. What is being done to keep our fishing vessels and those onboard them safer?”
Nicola Sturgeon agreed it was important to protect Scottish fishing vessels but she did not lay out any news plans or measure to keep EU vessels from acting dangerously.
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