Greenpeace are making waves over destructive supertrawlers

Greenpeace is demanding urgent action now by the British government to halt destructive supertrawlers operating in protected zones off our coasts

Greenpeace Croydon has this week helped to launch Operation Ocean Witness, which is making waves to confront destructive fishing methods and the use of supertrawlers.

At campaign stalls around Croydon, locals signed a petition calling on the government to ban supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly shooters from UK Marine Protected Areas.

Greenpeace volunteer Sarah Hester, from Selsdon, said, “We spoke to many local people who are on board with the need to ban destructive fishing from our protected areas.

Sir David Attenborough: has backed campaigns against the destruction of the oceans

“We were struck by just how many had heard of and disapproved of these massive industrial ships and the way they destroy all life in the sea within reach of their huge greedy nets.”

Visitors to the Greenpeace Croydon stalls were encouraged to leave messages in support of the campaign. One, from 10-year-old Rosie, summed up the position neatly: “Please protect the sea from these horrible monster ships. They catch and kill everything.”

The petition and messages, written on origami fishes, will be delivered directly to Parliament next month.

Operation Ocean Witness is the latest step in Greenpeace’s campaign to protect our oceans, which has included a David Attenborough-backed protest against destructive deep-sea mining, and Greenpeace ship the Sea Beaver stopping bottom trawlers from fishing in the Offshore Marine Protected Area off the coast of Sussex.

Supertrawlers stand accused of causing irreparable damage to the oceans, ploughing up the sea bed and destroying habitats while plundering fish stocks to desperately low levels. The world’s biggest fishing vessel – Poland’s Annelies Ilena ­– is 144 metres long, nearly five times the size of the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale.

When a fishing vessel’s target species are reduced to critical levels, this undermines the health of the entire ecosystem and its ability to function. Supertrawlers have been repeatedly linked to overfishing, catching species that are depleted or on the brink of collapse.

Australia banned this supertrawler from its coastal waters years ago. Now, Lithuanian-registered Margiris operates unhindered off the coast of Sussex

Supertrawlers also cause harm to other marine species that they don’t intend to catch – the “bycatch” of turtles, sharks, rays, whales and dolphins that get caught up in their vast nets, unable to escape.

For vessels that fish longer, further and with larger nets, as supertrawlers do, that risk of “collateral” damage is hugely increased.

Supertrawler operations in British protected areas have increased six-fold in the past four years.

Official figures show that supertrawlers spent a total of 142 hours fishing in what are supposed to be Marine Protected Areas off the south coast. The Offshore Overfalls, near Brighton, was the third most-visited MPA by supertrawlers of all the UK’s protected areas.

Greenpeace volunteers say that their campaign received strong support from Croydon residents

Last year, 84 MPs, including 29 Conservatives, wrote to George Eustice, the Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, calling for a ban on destructive industrial fishing in British protected waters. Polling by YouGov found that 4 out of 5 adults in Britain want supertrawlers banned from protected areas.

In January, the Prime Minister hinted at a supertrawler ban, boasting on national television that, after Brexit, the UK “will be able to ban these huge hoover trawlers”. But Boris Johnson has since done nothing about it.

“It’s time to get ocean protection done,” Croydon Greenpeace’s  Hester said today.

“As an island nation, we know how important our oceans are for local fisheries, tourism and tackling climate change. To truly be the world leader in marine protection that it claims to be, the government needs to ban supertrawlers from MPAs now.”

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
  • Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Community associations, Environment, Wildlife and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Greenpeace are making waves over destructive supertrawlers

  1. Ian Ross says:

    As a start this aquatic vandalism needs to be banned in our waters. There needs to be a global ban but with countries such as China fishing ever further afield there is little hope. I would favour Argentina’s approach: sink them.

    • There is, as ever, an historical irony in such calls, Ian. Remember the “Cod Wars” in the 1970s, when the Icelanders threatened British fishing vessels, as they sought to protect the fish stocks in their territorial waters? Far-sighted, those Icelanders…

  2. Lewis White says:

    Just on holiday in South Western Scotland, a beautiful combination of land and sea, with a number of small harbours that are still host to one or two fishing vessels.

    We had a chat with some trawler men who said that the smaller local trawlers had not wiped out the local fish sticks, but that continental trawlers are at least double the size, and come in and took out in a few hours what they would in a few days. Most remaining local boats seem to catch crab and lobster in pots, so there is no seabed destruction at all from them.

    In an ideal world, one day, not too far away, would it not be good if a given number of fishing companies or fisher enterprises could be given sole use of given areas, so that they would be responsible for wise management and harvesting the resource, not raping the seas of all fish.

    Perhaps Geenpeace Croydon have helped to bring that day a little nearer.

Leave a Reply