Bottom trawling banned in four offshore marine protected areas

Damaging fishing activity will be prohibited in four offshore marine protected areas (MPAs) from the 13th of June 2022 after an extensive consultation period and scientific evidence pinpointing bottom-towed gear as a leading cause of biodiversity declines. 

The Angling Trust welcomes this decision as part of the government’s strategy to recover our seas and create a World Class Fishery that supports people and biodiversity sustainably. 

Recreational sea angling – and the livelihoods and communities it supports – is dependent on abundant fish stocks, and we welcome action to restore our marine environment after decades of damage and overexploitation. 

The four introduced byelaws will ban bottom-towed gear – bottom trawls, dredges, demersal seines, and semi-pelagic trawls – over specific areas. 

The marine protected areas that will benefit from this prohibition are: 

o   Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation (SAC) 

o   Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation (SAC) 

o   South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) 

o   The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) 

Within the Inner Dowsing, Race Bank, and North Ridge SAC, additional restrictions will ban the use of static gears like pots, nets, and lines over particularly sensitive areas. This does not apply to a person fishing using angling gear solely for pleasure.

Hannah Rudd, Policy & Advocacy Manager, said, “Recreational sea angling depends on thriving seas, and we welcome this long-overdue decision to protect these offshore sites from damaging commercial fishing activity. It is bewildering that bottom trawling has been allowed within MPAs with sensitive habitats for so long. Rebuilding fish stocks and supporting ocean recovery are paramount to achieving the goals of a World-Class Fishery and wider ecosystem restoration, which are both a priority under the Fisheries Act (2020). The Angling Trust looks forward to working with the government to achieve our shared aspiration of restored seas for all stakeholders.” 

For the government press release and associated bylaws, please visit 

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