Fishers sail to Parliament to protest super trawlers 'threatening livelihoods and oceans'

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Sarah Saunders

A flotilla of fishing boats from the Sussex coast sailed up the River Thames to Parliament on Wednesday (22nd September) to protest against industrial super trawlers that they say are threatening both their livelihoods and the oceans.

Fishers, from Newhaven and Rye who joined environmental activists, say fishing techniques that they describe as "ruthless" are emptying the seas.

The Government says it is determined to protect the marine environment.

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Martin Yorwarth, who sails The Sarah Jane out of Newhaven, said: "Outside the six mile there is no fish left. The fly shooters, the super trawlers have destroyed it for us.

"We must ban the super trawlers or it's the end of the small fleet fishing industry."

Scott Marchant, who fishes in Rye, said: "The profit is for them whereas with the smaller boats the money is shared around the local community rather than being taken away."

It's believed that some super trawlers can catch in a day what small boats manage in a year

Super trawlers and fly-shooters use efficient fishing methods, some of which can apparently catch in a day what small boats manage in a year.

Trawl fishing along the sea bed has been banned along one section of the Sussex coast, close to the shore, to allow vast kelp forests to recover.

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However, Greenpeace says the situation remains at crisis point.

Fiona Nicholls from Greenpeace said: "When it comes to going out in the Channel and the southern North Sea it is pretty much an industrial free for all out there, particularly in marine protected areas where it is protected in name only."

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs says all fishers have to abide by regulations including those on sustainability.

George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Now that we're outside the European Union we've got the ability to be able to put restrictions in place on many of those larger vessels, new technical measures that we have the power to introduce. We've got powers that we never had previously.

"We've already taken some steps to close and introduce new protections in areas such as the Dogger Bank.

"We've got other plans to put in place new protections for our marine environment."