Marine mammals at risk from supertrawlers

By Carole Dennett Sep 25, 2020

An Island charity is predicting an environmental disaster if supertrawlers continue to plunder fish stocks from our waters.

Blues Seas Protection, based in Sandown, has reported several marine mammal deaths on the south of the Island over the last week including a harbour porpoise at St Helens. This follows the sighting of two Dutch supertrawlers fishing off the south coast, the Afrika and The Willem Van Dee Zwan, which can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish a day.

Garry Oates, chairman of Blue Seas Protection, said: “The trawlers are operating around 15-20 miles off our coast and it will affect our sea life. They are targetting pelagic fish, which live and swim in mid-ocean, like mackerel, horse mackerel and bass. They are scooping up shoals of fish and, with them, dolphins and other mammals.

“The dolphins swim with the shoals and feed off them so they end up becoming part of the catch. The dolphins suffocate in the nets and 90 per cent of them are then slit open so they just sink to the bottom of the sea hiding they fact they have been caught and killed. It’s criminal. A small percentage wash up on our beaches and we have seen an increase in this recently.

“In the last 50 years we have taken 90 per cent of the world’s fish stocks from the water and we could run out of fish by 2040.  Last year Bembridge – from Nettlestone Point to Ventnor – was made a Marine Conservation Zone yet these supertrawlers are still allowed to commercially fish in our waters. It’s a ludicrous situation, a bit like allowing a shootout in a safari park.

“We just can’t go on like this and we have to raise awareness with people saying: ‘Enough is enough.’ It is the most important message to mankind, with no fish in our oceans we will have a dead planet.”