'It would have wrecked the place' - Government drops plans to ban fishing off Holy Island

itv pics
Five areas, which are home to vulnerable marine wildlife, were earmarked as pilot sites to become Highly Protected Marine Areas. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Controversial plans to ban fishing off Holy Island have been dropped.

The government had been consulting on classifying fishing grounds around the island as a Highly Protected Marine Area, which would have prevented any shell fishing from taking place. 

Fishermen have been working out of Lindisfarne harbour for centuries, and campaigners against the plans argued that the industry was at the heart of the local community.

Reverend Canon Dr Sarah Hills, the Vicar of Holy Island led the Save the Holy Island Fishermen campaign and said it was vital that the industry could continue.

"The whole community thrives on fishing, it would have been absolutely desperate, it would have wrecked the place completely."

  • Dr Hills and harbourmaster Paul Douglas give their reaction to the announcement.

Now the Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, has written to the Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, saying her department, DEFRA, won't be designating Lindisfarne as a HPMA.

"I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to reverse this decision, in particular the Holy Island residents; the wider Northumberland community who took the time to respond to my survey and Defra’s consultation; local figureheads like Rev Sarah Hills and John Bevan and of course the fishing community themselves," said Ms Trevelyan.

"Their story is one of hard work and dedication to keeping their way of life going, and that story has inspired local and national support."

Harbourmaster Paul Douglas operates a fishing boat from Lindisfarne and has two hundred years of fishing history in his family. He says the government has made the right decision.

"It was a massive relief last night to get that news, then your phone doesn't stop after that. It came as a shock to get that on Friday night. It was just unbelievable."

Dr Hills added: "We were hopeful of course this would be the result, but we didn't know. Pleasant surprise is putting it mildly, the celebrations last night were fantastic."

  • Kris Jepson reported on the controversial plans when they were first announced in August 2022.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...