MP Sir Peter Bottomley meets Greenpeace campaigners to learn more about threats to seas

Sir Peter Bottomley has taken a trip to sea to meet members of the fishing community and Greenpeace campaigners.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 3:43 pm
Sir Peter Bottomley aboard the Sea Beaver, Greenpeace's newest boat. Picture: Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace

The MP – whose Worthing West constituency includes East Preston and Rustington – discussed the threats facing the seas off the south coast and the importance of strengthening marine protection.

The meeting took place on Greenpeace’s newest boat, Sea Beaver, which took the group around the waters to the east of the Isle of Wight.

It was part of Greenpeace’s Operation Ocean Witness, a six-month project to document, expose and confront destructive fishing practices.

The Greenpeace boat Sea Beaver during Operation Ocean Witness in the English Channel. Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

During the outing, the group discussed the threats posed by supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and industrial fly-shooters, and how these destructive industrial forms of fishing have harmed the UK’s fishing communities.

Sir Peter said: “I am grateful to the Greenpeace crew for his opportunity to learn more about the need for enforced effective rules to ban unsustainable fishing.

“It was a pleasure to meet the working fisherman from Newhaven, who explained why ‘fly-shooting’, super trawling and techniques that destructively scour the sea bed combine to ruin the marine ecosystem while ending the opportunities for appropriate catches of mature fish. The Greenpeace ‘Operation Ocean Witness’ helps detect inappropriate or illegal fishing. We should all be grateful.”

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Ocean protection and thriving coastal communities go hand in hand, so it’s vital the Government seize this opportunity. We have agreed to work together to push for urgent action.”

Greenpeace has said its 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.

Greenpeace is calling for bottom trawlers, supertrawlers and fly-shooters all to be banned from the UK’s marine protected areas. It says this would help to revive the UK’s fishing communities, protect biodiversity and help keep blue carbon stores buried safely in the deep oceans.

The Government has committed to conserving and protecting at least 30 percent of our seas by 2030, in line with scientific advice.

It has new powers in the 2020 Fisheries Act to act on this promise through banning destructive industrial fishing from all offshore Marine Protected Areas, Greenpeace said.