The UK Government has proposed a ban on bottom trawling in four protected areas in UK seas.
Bottom trawling is where a fishing boat drags a weighted net along the sea bed to catch large quantities of fish in one go. There are many issues this method of commerical fishing creates. Firstly, there is no control over which species of marine life are caught in the sweep of the net, which could include endagered or protected species. Due to the size of the nets couple with the rate of fishing, this directly impacts biodiversity. Trawlers also destroy coral reefs, which grow from the seabed and provide a habitat for entire ecosystems.
The ban protection will include the Dogger Bank conservation area located in the North Sea. The space is the size of South Wales, and a breeding ground for fish important to the food webs of other species (such as puffins and porpoises) that eat sand eels and cod.
Although this is a big win for conservation, there is still much more to do in terms of protecting marinve environments. There are 40 offshore marine protected areas (MPAs) in England, and 76 in the UK, and according to The Guardian, more than 97% of British MPAs are being dredged and bottom trawled.
In 2019, the UK established the Global Ocean Alliance, and state on their website:
The Global Ocean Alliance will push for the trebling of existing globally-agreed targets so at least a third of the ocean is safeguarded in Marine Protected Areas over the next decade. These protections help sensitive species such as seahorses, turtles and corals to thrive, and can help fight climate change by protecting key carbon habitats such as mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.
And at the recent One Planet Summit 2021 Recap, a brand new coalition, The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People was launched, which calls for intergovernmental support and ambition to protect at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030. Over 50 countries have already signed the coalition.