NINE “super trawlers” are currently fishing off the coast of Brighton, prompting fears from a wildlife charity.

Brighton Dolphin Project, a charity project of the World Cetacean Alliance, was first alerted to the presence of the Dutch trawler, Alida by the fishing community in Newhaven.

However, according to ship tracking website, MarineTraffic, it has since been joined by eight other “super trawlers” that are now fishing around the Sussex coast.

The Argus: Common dolphin found dead on Black Rock beach, Brighton.Common dolphin found dead on Black Rock beach, Brighton.

The largest is vessel is the Dutch factory trawler, Carolien which measures 126.22 metres in length.

Huge trawlers are legally allowed to fish in the channel off Sussex.

However the Dolphin Project is extreme;ly concerned that their presence will lead to a number of dolphin strandings.

Thea Taylor, Brighton Dolphin Project co-lead, said: “One super trawler can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish per day, using nets a mile long.

“The biggest vessel has a carrying capacity of 6400 tonnes.

“Between them, these super trawlers have not only caught masses of their target fish species but tonnes of fish and marine life that they do not want, including marine mammals.

The Argus: Common dolphin stranding on Lancing beach in January 2020. Common dolphin stranding on Lancing beach in January 2020.

“These are usually ground down for animal feed or thrown back dead.

“We see a surge in dead dolphins on Sussex beaches when the super trawlers are here or during the weeks after.

In January, the body of a juvenile common dolphin was found on Lancing beach after trawlers had been fishing in the region.

This followed the stranding of a common dolphin on Black Rock Beach in September 2019 in the aftermath of super trawler activity.

The charity is now supporting a petition calling on Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, to take urgent action on super trawler activity.

Thea said: “Although the UK government already recognises cetacean species to be protected by law, bycatch caused by factory trawlers continues and requires a global response to sustainably manage fish resources and reduce destructive marine activity.

“We have the opportunity to lead a worldwide change.”

The Marine Management Organisation is responsible for policing marine activities.

A spokesman said: “The activity of super trawlers is managed in the same way as all fishing vessels.

The Marine Management Organisation closely monitors vessels, including large trawlers, when fishing in English waters.”