A SUPERTRAWLER fished in a conservation zone off the Sussex coast, GPS data has revealed.

Analysis from Greenpeace Margiris, the world’s second-largest fishing vessel, spent “significant time” in Offshore Overfalls Marine Conservation Zone south of Pagham, near Bognor.

The protected zone is home to the endangered undulated ray.

Though the Margiris’s activity was legal, Greenpeace campaigner Chris Thorne said the Government needed to step up protection for conservation zones.

“Our Government speaks well about ocean protection, but these are empty words until it takes serious action,” he said.

“It has a continued preference for paper parks that are little more than lines on a map, failing to properly protect Britain’s spectacular marine life.

“The Margiris is capable of processing 250 tonnes of fish each day and can carry 6,000 tonnes.

“While fishing in the Channel, its average catch per day was 68 tonnes of mackerel and two tonnes of pilchards.

“This means the Margiris caught a total of 1,610 tonnes of fish in UK waters.”

Mr Thorne called for more zones to be “fully protected”.

“Full protection is the most effective tool for ocean protection because the elimination of extractive or damaging activities protects the entire ecosysem,” he said.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, of the Marine Conservation Society, said the Government had “little control” over fishing in protected areas.

“Eighty per cent of the fishing fleet is fishing without any assessment of where they are,” he said.

“Even though the Margiris was huge, and caught a huge amount of fish, at least we could see where it is.

“Most of our boats have no satellite information on them.”

Dr Solandt called on the Government to ban seabed trawling in protected areas.

“Only about seven per cent of our protected areas at sea stop seabed trawling,” he said.

“The Government should make all offshore marine conservation zones protected from all forms of fishing.”

A spokesman from the Marine Management Organisation, which manages protected zones in UK waters, said it inspected the Margiris.

“The Marine Management Organisation closely monitored, and inspected, the Margiris while it was fishing in UK waters,” he said.

“No infringements were identified and there is no evidence to suggest that its fishing activities introduced a risk to the features of the Offshore Overfalls Marine Conservation Zone.”

The Margiris was banned from Australia in 2013.