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Offshore UK Marine Protected Areas

Currently only four of the UK’s 76 marine protected areas are protected from destructive bottom-trawling and dredging.

The UK has 76 offshore marine protected areas which cover a total area of 261,543km2. However, only four of them are currently protected from destructive bottom-trawling and dredging. The rest are currently “paper parks” with almost no management, because of an unresolved conflict between European fisheries policy and conservation law. BLUE is working to ensure that these vital offshore marine protected areas are given the protection that they require, starting with the Dogger Bank.

In 2020, BLUE and its coalition partners were successful in influencing the government over the management of offshore marine protected areas, the biggest marine conservation prize in Europe. Greenpeace dropped rocks on the Dogger Bank to stop trawling and dredging. Simultaneously, BLUE threatened the government with legal action for failing to comply with the Habitats Regulations which say fishing should be either limited or excluded in protected areas. In January 2021, the Government announced that trawling and dredging will be banned from 14,030 sq. kilometres of UK waters, including the Dogger Bank. BLUE is working to ensure that this ban is implemented and that other offshore marine protected areas can get the same level of protection.

The start of 2021 not only saw success on the Dogger Bank, but on 1 January 2021, BLUE’s three- year campaign against electric pulse fishing came to fruition when the UK Government announced an immediate ban of all electric pulse trawling in UK waters. This followed an investigation by BLUE exposing the routine electrocution of the UK’s fragile North Sea marine protected areas by harmful pulse-trawlers in 2019 and 2020.

 

Underwater photos of Dogger Bank credited to Stichting Natuurbeelden
Offshore UK Marine Protected Areas

Key stats

The UK has 76 offshore marine protected areas which cover a total area of 261,543 sq. kilometres.

From 1 January 2021 trawling and dredging will be banned from 14,030 sq. kilometres of UK waters.

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