New byelaws designed to protect four Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are to be introduced, reports Paul Scott.

The MMO says that the four new byelaws will ban the use of ‘dredges, demersal seines and semi-pelagic trawls, collectively known as bottom- towed gear, over certain areas’.

Additionally, there are further restrictions in two of the four sites ‘preventing the use of certain static gears such as pots, nets or lines over especially sensitive areas’.

The byelaws, which come into force on 13 June, cover Dogger Bank Special Area of Conservation, Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge Special Area of Conservation, South Dorset Marine Conservation Zone and The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone.

The MMO says that the new measures will prohibit fishing activities in MPAs ‘where there is evidence that they harm wildlife or damage habitats’.

It adds that the byelaws were subject to ‘extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders’.

“Many of our inshore MPAs are already protected through MMO and Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority byelaws,” said Tom McCormack, chief executive officer of the MMO.

“The Fisheries Act includes new powers allowing us to better manage and control fishing in our offshore MPAs.

“These new byelaws represent the next step in our nature recovery journey, ensuring our marine life can recover and thrive.”

The MMO says that the first four MPAs were chosen ‘as a priority’ to help protect their ‘vibrant and productive undersea environments’.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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