Call to end bottom trawlers fishing the region's coastline

  • Video report by Andy Dickenson

Underwater footage taken by a freediver from Lancing is being used to prove that a ban on bottom trawler boats should be copied around the country.

For the first time this year a 170 square kilometre zone was introduced off Sussex - protecting the inshore coastline.

But campaigners say the rest of our region's waters remain unprotected - and unless a blanket ban is brought in fish stocks and the environment could permanently suffer.

The Government looks set to license over 1,000 EU and UK fishing vessels permitting continued bottom trawling in UK Marine Protected Areas in 2022 

Conservation charity Oceana says at the current rate of progress, it will take the Government until 2050 to ban the highly destructive fishing method 

Bottom trawling and dredging are currently still permitted in over 97% - 62 out of a total of 64 - of the UK's offshore MPAs.

Bottom trawling and dredging involve the towing of heavy gear along the seabed, which often destroys the habitats and the species that live there.

A recent study also found that fishing boats that trawl the ocean floor release as much carbon back into the water column as the global aviation industry sends into the atmosphere annually.

Clive Mills, who has been fishing in the waters off Bognor Regis since 1976, uses low-impact sustainable gear such as trammel or gill nets that do no, or minimal, damage to the seabed.

Oceana believes that leaving inshore areas for low-impact fishers and banning scallop dredging and bottom trawling, would see the recovery of blue carbon habitats of kelp, reefs and seagrasses.  

The cultivation of a kelp forest off Lancing is already showing signs of progress. But if these benefits are to be seen elsewhere in our region much more may need to be done.