Limestone rocks weighing between 500 and 1,400 kilograms were dropped on Thursday into the South West Deeps (East) Conservation Zone, a marine protected area off the southwestern tip of England. “We created this rocky underwater barrier to protect the oceans as a last resort. We would much rather see the government do its job,” said Will McCallum, head of Greenpeace UK.
McCallum says it is outrageous to allow bottom trawl fishing in protected areas. “It destroys large parts of the marine ecosystem and makes fun of our so-called conservation policies,” he said.
According to the environmental group, the South West Deeps is “one of the most heavily fished marine protected areas in the UK”. She calls on the government and the incoming prime minister to “ban industrial fishing in all marine protected areas of the UK by changing fishing licenses”.
“This is the only way to protect our marine life, tackle climate change and support our local fishermen,” added Greenpeace spokesperson Jasmine Watkiss.
The organization cites figures from the Global Fishing Watch, which states that 110 vessels – more than half of them from France – spent nearly 19,000 hours fishing in the area in 18 months. Of these, the bottom trawlers spent 3,376 hours in the protected area.