Fishing communities are at breaking point, and we’re declaring an emergency

Enough is enough. Our oceans and our fishing communities need urgent protection.


It was worse than we imagined. Operation Ocean Witness launched at the beginning of summer to investigate and confront destructive fishing in Marine Protected Areas. 

We spotted countless industrial fishing boats in the protected areas and learned from local fishers that there are often no fish left for them to catch. It’s almost the end of the road for small-scale fishers along the South and East Coast.

This is an emergency, and politicians should treat it like one. Fishing communities from around the region, along with allied businesses and organisations including Greenpeace UK, are calling on the UK government to take urgent action. You can read our joint statement here.

The changes we’re calling for include permanent bans for supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly-shooters in all marine protected areas more than 12 nautical miles from the coast in the English Channel, and a ban on pelagic trawlers over 55m in length, and fly-shooters in the entire English Channel and Southern North Sea. 

These measures would boost catches for local fishers, revive coastal communities and provide space for marine ecosystems and fish populations to recover from years of devastation by industrial fishing. This would also be a vital step towards the UK government delivering its target of protecting 30% of the UK’s and the world’s oceans by 2030.

On Wednesday the 22nd of September, fishing boats and Greenpeace will be sailing up the Thames to Parliament with these demands, to make sure that they are heard by politicians.

Fishing communities are at breaking point

We’ve been at sea all summer bearing witness to the destruction taking place in the English Channel and nearby waters. We’ve worked closely with local fishermen, and when you’re on the water with them, it’s very clear; our fishing communities are at breaking point. They won’t survive much longer without urgent action from the government.

Fishing communities, anglers, charter skippers, fishmongers and environmental groups alike support these measures. We hope that by coming together to fight for the same thing, our government will finally start taking big, urgent, practical steps towards delivering this goal. If these requests are ignored, multinational fishing companies will continue to have free reign to wreck our oceans, threatening the livelihoods of the local fishers who are the backbone of our coastal communities.

Local fishermen speak out



Graham Doswell, Eastbourne

“I'm a third-generation fisherman. Been fishing on the Sussex coast all of my working life. I think unless something really, really drastically is done I think it's going to be difficult for everybody to carry on making a living.”


Martin Yorwarth, Newhaven

"I've been fishing since I was 12 years old. I'm now 48. We can't compete with the large factory ships and fly shooters. At the end of the day, they won't be able to compete with themselves because if they carry on as they are, there’ll be nothing left. "


John Nichols, Ramsgate

“I've been fishing since August, 1972. We're a shrinking fleet here. We're down to probably 14 vessels being reasonably active or active. 10, 15 years ago, we was twice the number. They're dropping out, not because they want to drop out, but because the quota and what's available is such that you struggle to earn an honest living.”

What's next?