Ban supertrawlers from UK Marine Protected Areas

An open letter to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Dear Secretary of State,

With Britain’s departure from the Common Fisheries Policy on the horizon, we call on you to ensure that protection of the environment and the livelihoods of the UK’s coastal communities are the top priority when Britain becomes an independent coastal state. As a first step, this means properly protecting our most important and sensitive marine areas, and managing our fisheries sustainably.

At present, supertrawlers, industrial fishing vessels longer than 100 metres, spend thousands of hours every year fishing in marine areas that are meant to be protected. They also dominate the UK’s unfair system of quota distribution, with sustainable local fishers, who form the vast majority of the UK’s fishing fleet, missing out.

As you have recognised, strong marine protection safeguards vulnerable ocean ecosystems, and has significant benefits in restoring fish populations in local waters, which can benefit coastal fishing communities. 

On the world stage, the Government has championed protecting 30% of global oceans by 2030, and spearheaded the Global Ocean Alliance, which is an admirable step in the right direction. However, allowing industrial supertrawlers and other destructive fishing vessels to fish inside the UK’s most sensitive marine ecological areas undermines the Government’s vision and leadership.

Using the Government’s renewed powers outside of the Common Fisheries Policy, we urge you to ban destructive industrial fishing vessels like supertrawlers from fishing in the UK’s Marine Protected Areas. A ban would prove that this government is serious about marine protection, and pave the way for a network of fully or highly protected Marine Protected Areas off limits to all destructive industrial activities, covering at least 30% of the UK’s waters by 2030.

The Government must seize this historic opportunity to increase the health of our oceans, and support the communities that depend on them.

List of signatories

Public figures

Gillian Anderson

Alison Sudol

Alison Steadman

David de Rothschild

Michael Elwyn

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Colin Dack

Michael Palin

Joanna Lumley

Robert Linsday

Scientists and NGOs

Dr Emma Cavan, Imperial College London

Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK

Harriet Allen, Marine Biologist

Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation


Michael Ellis, Northampton North, Conservative

Lisa Nandy, Wigan, Labour

Paul Maskey, Belfast West, Sinn Féin

Stephen Farry, North Down, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Ben Everitt, Milton Keynes North, Conservative

John Howell, Henley, Conservatie

Yvonne Fovargue, Makerfield, Labour

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East, Labour

Drew Hendry, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, SNP

Royston Smith, Southampton, Itchen, Conservative

Caroline Lucas, Brighton, Pavilion, Greens

Henry Smith, Crawley, Conservative

James Gray, North Wiltshire, Conservative

Richard Burgon, Leeds East, Labour

Danny Kruger, Devizes, Conservtive

Craig Williams, Montgomeryshire, Conservative

Andrew Gwynne, Denton and Reddish, Labour

Stewart Hosie, Dundee East, SNP

Jeremy Corbyn, Islington North, Labour

Simon Baynes , Clwyd South, Conservative

Carla Lockhart, Upper Bann, DUP

Hywel Williams, Arfon, Plaid Cymru

Siobhain McDonagh, Mitcham and Morden, Labour

Tony Lloyd, Rochdale, Labour

Paul Girvan, South Antrim, DUP

Ben Lake, Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru

Christopher Chope, Christchurch, Conservative

Angela Crawley, Lanark and Hamilton East, SNP

Felicity Buchan, Kensington, Conservative

Graham Stringer, Blackley and Broughton, Labour

Jon Cruddas, Dagenham and Rainham, Labour

Claire Hanna, Belfast South, Labour

Barry Gardiner, Brent North, Labour

Maria Eagle, Garston and Halewood, Labour 

Mike Hill, Hartlepool, Labour 

John McDonnell, Hayes and Harlington, Labour

Mike Penning, Hemel Hampstead,Conservative

John Whittingdale, Maldon, Conservative

Desmond Swayne, New Forest West, Conservative

Lee Rowley, North East Derbyshire, Conservative

Roger Gale, North Thanet, Conservative 

Chris Bryant, Rhondda, Labour

Bill Esterson, Sefton Central, Labour

Andrew Selous, South West Bedfordshire, Conservative

Tim Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Lib Dem

Steve Brine, Winchester, Conservative

Jamie Stone, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Lib Dem

Edward Argar, Charnwood, Conservative

Helen Whately , Faversham and Mid Kent, Conservative

Tonia Antoniazzi, Gower, Labour 

Catherine West, Hornsey and Wood Green, Labour

Peter Kyle, Hove, Labour 

Cat Smith, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Labour

Kevin Foster, Torbay, Conservative 

Ian Levy, Blyth Valley, Conservative 

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Streatham, Labour

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian, SNP