Fury as foreign supertrawlers can still plunder British waters

Foreign supertrawlers will still be allowed to pillage the coasts off Britain despite Brexit because the government cannot work out how to ban them, a source says.

The insider admitted ministers cannot 'exclude these boats altogether' and are only able to control what form of fishing they do.

For example they can ban methods such as bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas but will not rule on the size of the boat or its nets.

MPs and campaigners have branded it not good enough and are seeking ways to ban supertrawlers outright.

It comes after a report warned ships that use this form of fishing should be stopped from 'bulldozing a national park'.

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Supertrawlers will still be allowed to pillage the coasts off Britain despite Brexit because the government cannot ban them, a source has revealed. Pictured: The 390ft Dutch Frank Bonefaas

Supertrawlers will still be allowed to pillage the coasts off Britain despite Brexit because the government cannot ban them, a source has revealed. Pictured: The 390ft Dutch Frank Bonefaas

The insider admitted ministers cannot 'exclude these boats altogether' and are only able to control what form of fishing they do. Pictured: The Lithuanian FV Margiris in 2019

The insider admitted ministers cannot 'exclude these boats altogether' and are only able to control what form of fishing they do. Pictured: The Lithuanian FV Margiris in 2019

The Government source told the Telegraph: 'Crucially, there is no formal definition of what a supertrawler is. In the media, it has come to be known as a vessel that is over 100m in length.

'Supertrawlers are pelagic trawlers whose nets do not touch the seabed, so generally don't cause damage to seabed features.'

It had been hoped that leaving the EU would see the last of the huge vessels, which campaigners claim cause environmental damage.

But ships such as the Margiris have since been spotted off the British coastline, despite it being banned from Australia amid claims it drained fish stocks.

Tory MP Henry Smith said: 'My position is quite clear - I welcome the ban on electric pulse fishing but I think this is a great opportunity to ban supertrawlers which are incredibly damaging and it would be popular with British fishermen, the public at large and its something we need to do to protect our coastal waters.'

Oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK Chris Thorne added: 'Failing to deliver a supertrawler ban in the UK's protected areas would be a devastating blow to our coastal communities and to our oceans.'

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This map of Great Britain and Ireland shows the extent of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone

This map of Great Britain and Ireland shows the extent of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone

Meanwhile a report warned this week supertrawlers that drag nets across the seabed in marine-protected areas should be stopped from 'bulldozing a national park'.

'Bottom trawling', in which heavy nets are dragged across the seabed to collect fish and shellfish, destroys natural habitats and releases carbon.

And the pratice is taking place in nearly all the UK's offshore protected areas that were created to conserve seabed habitats, the Marine Conservation Society said.

It is calling for a ban on bottom trawling in marine-protected areas to conserve and build up carbon stores as part of efforts to curb climate change, and to help habitats and wildlife recover.

Boris Johnson signalled last weekend he may ban 'supertrawlers' that 'hoover' up the contents of the seabed such as coral, sea anemones, fish and crustaceans.

Allowing bottom trawling to take place in protected sites is the equivalent of bulldozing

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