Environmental activists are getting ready to drop boulders into waters off the coast of Cornwall in a bid to guard uncommon sea-bed habitat from backside trawler fishing.
Greenpeace UK needs to create a barrier in South West Deeps, a delegated marine protected space 200 miles off the Land’s Finish peninsula.
Regardless of being recognised as websites of particular ecological significance, marine protected areas will not be mechanically granted any further authorized safety from fishing.
Conservationists need trawling banned in protected areas as a result of it indiscriminately tears up delicate ecosystems comparable to seagrasses to catch species comparable to cod, squid and flatfish.
Greenpeace introduced on Monday that its ship Arctic Dawn shall be crusing to the south west within the coming weeks to start dropping boulders at South West Deeps.
Will probably be the third underwater barrier constructed by Greenpeace in UK waters, it having beforehand dropped granite on to Dogger Financial institution within the North Sea and within the Offshore Brighton marine protected space.
Within the wake of the boulder drop at Dogger Financial institution, UK Authorities company the Marine Administration Organisation (MMO) took Greenpeace to court docket for environmental breaches.
However the case was dropped in February of this yr after a choose at Newcastle Crown Courtroom invited the MMO to rethink, saying prosecution was not within the public curiosity.
Choose Edward Bindloss remarked: “One of many ironies of this litigation is that each the MMO and Greenpeace are dedicated to bettering the marine surroundings.”
He added: “The events on this case needs to be allies, not antagonists. They need to be appearing in concord given their acknowledged goal and goals are the identical.”
In April, Surroundings Secretary George Eustice introduced backside trawling can be banned at 4 of the UK’s 76 protected zones, together with Dogger Financial institution, with a ban into consideration at 13 extra.
A spokeswoman for Greenpeace mentioned it was pushing forward with an extra boulder drop because it was the one factor the Authorities has responded to following years of discussions and consultations on marine conservation.
In response to the charity, the South West Deeps is without doubt one of the most closely fished marine protected areas within the UK.
Satellite tv for pc information confirmed that between January 2021 and mid-July 2022, it was fished for practically 19,000 hours by 110 boats, Greenpeace mentioned.
Over the identical interval bottom-trawlers spent greater than 3,370 hours fishing there, it mentioned.
It discovered 53 % of commercial fishing vessels in South West Deeps have been from France, adopted by Spain and 30 % and solely 9 % from Britain.
Pat Venditti, Greenpeace UK’s govt director, described the barrier as a “final resort”.
“The way forward for the UK’s oceans is hanging within the steadiness, and we’re operating out of time to save lots of them from industrial fishing, habitat destruction and local weather change,” Mr Venditti mentioned.
He added: “The following prime minister ought to ban industrial fishing in marine protected areas by tweaking business fishing licences, to indicate they imply enterprise on defending nature and supporting fishing communities.”
Greenpeace’s announcement coincides with the primary day of the UN’s International Ocean Treaty Negotiations, which goals to agree a authorized framework to guard worldwide waters.
Greenpeace mentioned if a treaty shouldn’t be finalised this yr, it will likely be inconceivable to guard 30 % of the world’s oceans by 2030, a goal agreed by greater than 100 international locations on the Cop15 biodiversity summit.
Tess de la Mare is a reporter with PA.