THE world’s second largest trawler is fishing off the Sussex coast, prompting concerns from campaigners.

Blue Planet Society (BPS) an environmental pressure group, said the vessel may be linked to an increase in marine mammals washing up on our shores.

The Margiris super-

trawler, which is 14 times the size of UK fishing boats, has been fishing between Bognor and Seaford for ten days, activists say.

John Hourston, a volunteer at the pressure group, said: “They are using a net 200m wide, how can they avoid by-catches?

“There are serious concerns about the potential by-catch of short beaked common-dolphins, endangered bluefin tuna and overfished sea bass that feed on the same target fish species.”

Mr Hourston said the vessel not only fishes, but processes its catch onboard, meaning it can stay at sea for longer – processing 250 tonnes of fish a day.

In recent weeks, many stranded marine mammals have been spotted across the county, including Black Rock beach, Brighton, and Ovingdean Beach cafe.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue, which helps rescue and document strandings, said it has noticed an increase – but could not say what was behind it.

But BPS, which is campaigning against super-trawlers, said their presence elsewhere, such as off the western coast of Ireland, coincided with an increase in stranded common dolphins, seals and porpoises.

Mr Hourston said: “As far as we are concerned, it’s unproven, but highly likely.

“It’s unproven because there are no observers on this vessel collecting statistics.

"Wherever these supertrawlers go, marine mammal by-catch seems to follow"

The group is demanding the EU, or the British Government following Brexit, ensure independent observers are placed on all super-trawlers.

Observers document what the ship catches along with other incidents.

Mr Hourston added: “From what I can tell, everybody from commercial fishermen, to recreational sea anglers and the general public, are all singing from the same hymn sheet.”

The super-trawler is owned by fisheries company Parlevliet and van der Plas.

It was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time The Argus went to print.