THERE are concerns for wildlife after two supertrawlers were spotted fishing off Brighton beach.

Brighton Dolphin Project, a regional branch of the World Cetacean Alliance, was alerted to the presence of the Afrika supertrawler by the local fishing community.

The vessel, from the Netherlands, is 126 metres in length and can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish every day, using nets up to a mile long.

A second 142-metre trawler, The Willem Van Dee Zwan, also from the Netherlands, has joined the Afrika to fish in the waters between Brighton and Newhaven.

Thea Taylor of Brighton Dolphin Project said: “This high-volume, large-scale fishing can lead to collapsing fish populations and also harms other marine species through bycatch, including sharks, rays, whales and dolphins.

“This is not only an ecological disaster as far as marine life is concerned but also puts our local fishing community, who use sustainable practices, under threat.”

A dolphin which was found dead on Lancing beach earlier this year with notches on either side of its beak and impressions along its body consistent with marks from a fishing net was put down to fishing trawlers.

The Argus:

The Zoological Society and Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme said the injuries were consistent with those sustained from a fishing net.

Thea said: “We last had visits from supertrawlers in September/October 2019.

“During this time we recorded two common dolphins and a harbour porpoise, which was washed up dead at the end of September, and two unidentified cetaceans and a further common dolphin towards the end of the year.

“It should be noted that roughly ten per cent of cetaceans caught as bycatch wash up, meaning 90 per cent go unrecorded.”

The news comes after the organisation enjoyed an incredible summer of sea-life sightings.

Dolphins, seals and a seahorse were seen off the Sussex coast.

Further offshore, the Marine Management Organisation is responsible for policing fishing vessels.

A spokesman said fishing vessels longer than 12 metres are required by law to fit “pingers” to some nets to drive away marine life with sounds.

He added: “The Marine Management Organisation and Defra continue to work with the fishing industry to reduce bycatch of dolphins.”

Brighton Dolphin Project has urged the public to report any strandings to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation programme -