Maria Caufield, MP for Lewes, has met with a representative from the local fishing community and Greenpeace UK in Newhaven to discuss the threats facing the seas off Sussex, and how they are impacting local fishing communities. The group also discussed the need to properly protect Sussex’s offshore marine protected areas, and how this would benefit local fishing communities.
They discussed the threats to Sussex’s coastline, including supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly shooting, a destructive form of industrial fishing which has reemerged in the Channel over the last couple of years. All of these forms of industrial fishing are putting significant pressure on already struggling local fishing communities by decimating fish populations and marine habitats.
Fishers were promised that Brexit would help save the UK’s already struggling coastal communities, and provide the UK with a unique opportunity to implement world leading marine protection in UK waters.
Neither of these things have yet been delivered, despite the Government now having the powers in the 2020 Fisheries Act to restrict licences from destructive industrial fishing boats in offshore Marine Protected Areas. Meanwhile, the threat to small-scale fishers from industrial fishing has gotten worse. However, there is still time for these Brexit promises to become reality.
Maria Caufield, Member of Parliament for Lewes, said “I am really concerned about the impact on our fishing community from practices out in the Channel such as fly shooting and I am pleased to be working with Greenpeace on this and I am in discussion with Ministerial colleagues on the impact this is having with our local fishing community.”
Martin Yowarth, a local fisherman and fishmonger based in Newhaven said “Industrial fishing boats, fly shooters, supertrawlers and all the rest, have been plundering our waters for years now, taking all the fish, harming the health of our oceans and the health of our fishing communities. We’ve been hung out to dry by Brexit already, and we need action. It was brilliant to meet Maria Caufield the other day, and I hope she can turn our excellent meeting into tangible action to protect our waters. With the support of our local MP Maria Caufield and others, I’m confident that we will get the help needed to save our fishing communities.”
Chris Thorne, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK said “It was so inspiring to be part of such a productive discussion about the future of our oceans. Working together with local fishers and politicians is crucial for helping to get ocean protection done. We believe that properly protecting our protected areas at sea by banning destructive forms of industrial fishing inside them will not only save our oceans, it will also save our fishing industry, which is the backbone of coastal communities.
“We’re so pleased that Maria took the time to meet us and meet with local fishers in Newhaven, and we have agreed to continue to work together to protect our oceans and our fishing communities.”
The meeting was set up as part of Greenpeace’s Operation Ocean Witness, a six month project to document, expose and confront the destructive fishing practices taking place inside the protected areas off the Sussex coast.
Greenpeace investigators have witnessed extensive bottom trawling in protected areas set up to protect the seabed, high intensity fly shooting, as well as AIS dark fishing, when boats turn off their satellite tracking systems, which is illegal under UK and international maritime law.