THE world’s second-largest trawler has been spotted “sucking up” sealife off the coast of Sussex, sparking fears from fishermen.

According to ship-tracking website MarineTraffic, the FV Margiris, which can carry up to 6,200 tons of fish, has been circling the waters south of Littlehampton since the weekend.

It is currently fishing for horse mackerel in the English Channel.

The Lithuanian “super trawler” was banned from Australia in 2013 after a ban was introduced on large fishing vessels.

Now fishers are concerned sealife will be “sucked up” by the Margiris.

Littlehampton angler Clive Fennell worried fish stocks would be depleted by the Margiris.

He said: “The jobs of fishermen are at stake.

“The Margiris can take in a huge amount of fish.

“What happens is a 200m net is spread out from the back of the ship, but a huge vacuum is used to suck all the fish in.

“The net can stay out for hours and a huge volume of fish is taken in.”

While the Margiris is currently fishing for horse mackerel and pilchards, Mr Fennell worried other species could be sucked in too.

Samuel Stone, of the Marine Conservation Society, said the vessel was “not necessarily unsustainable” but needed to be carefully managed.

He said: “Generally, we’re not monitoring our fisheries well enough in the UK, so this sort of activity does make us nervous.

“Management needs to be very good and proportionate to the scale and potential local impact of these kind of vessels.”

A spokesman from fishing watchdog the Marine Management Organisation said officials had inspected the ship.

He said: “Officers from the Marine Management Organisation boarded and inspected the Lithuanian registered fishing vessel Margiris KL855 on 2nd October.

“No infringements of fishing regulations were found.”

A spokesman for Parlevliet and Van der Plas, the Dutch company running the Margiris, said it was operating under European fishing law.

He said: “The Margiris has been boarded by the authorities and everything is fine.”