Greenpeace places boulders on seabed to protect most heavily fished “Marine Protected Area” 

Action has support of Celebrities Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry, and Daniel Lismore are supporting the action, alongside Conservative politicians Henry Smith MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Theresa May’s former Downing Street environment advisor Lord Randall, as well as the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP. Their names were stencilled onto the boulders before being dropped into the ocean.

From today’s Western Morning News

Greenpeace UK has placed 18 limestone boulders on the seabed in the South West Deeps (East) Marine Protected Area to block what it claims is “destructive industrial fishing.”

On Thursday, campaigners and crew on board Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise sailed to the western English Channel to make a portion of the South West Deeps off-limits to bottom-trawling.

But the move has been criticised by the fishing industry and the Marine Management Organisation, (MMO) who say they are already accelerating plans to extend protection for the UK’s Marine Protected Areas.

And, they warn, dumping boulders into the sea in this way potentially puts fishermen’s lives at risk.

The Fishing Daily reports that after an earlier boulder drop at Dogger Bank, the MMO took Greenpeace to court for environmental breaches, but the case was dropped in February this year after a judge at Newcastle Crown Court invited the MMO to reconsider, saying prosecution was not in the public interest.

The MMO told the fishing publication that Greenpeace was aware it was delivering accelerated protection measures within Marine Protected Areas. “As such, we are surprised and disappointed by the announcement made by Greenpeace of their intention to undertake further unlawful activity within this specific MPA at South West Deeps (East),” the MMO said.

Greenpeace say the latest boulder action off the South West coast took place days after UK leaders failed to help secure a Global Ocean Treaty at IGC5 in New York. That failure threatens the Government’s aim to achieve at least 30% ocean protection by 2030 the environmental organisation claims.

Greenpeace alleges: “Across the entirety of the South West Deeps (East) – more than 4,600 km2 – there is not one metre of protection from destructive industrial fishing. It is one of the most heavily fished so-called Marine Protected Areas in the UK. In the last 18 months, the South West Deeps experienced almost 19,000 hours of industrial fishing, 3,370 hours of which was bottom-trawling. The majority of industrial fishing vessels in the area were from France (53%) followed by Spain (30%) and Great Britain (9%).

Celebrities Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry, and Daniel Lismore are supporting the action, alongside Conservative politicians Henry Smith MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Theresa May’s former Downing Street environment advisor Lord Randall, as well as the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP. Their names were stencilled onto the boulders before being dropped into the ocean.

The 18 boulders are Portland limestone, and each weighs between 500kg and 1,400kg. They make it impossible for bottom-towed fishing gear to be dragged along the seabed.One boulder has giant ammonite sculpture carved into it. 

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