THERE are concerns for wildlife after a supertrawler was spotted off the Sussex coast.

Sussex Dolphin Project, a charity project of the World Cetacean Alliance, was alerted to the presence of the Alida supertrawler in the channel after it began travelling west from Kent.

The vessel, from the Netherlands, is 99.24 meters in length and can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish every day, using nets up to a mile long.

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

The Alida is currently fishing in international waters - beyond the UK's 12-mile territorial water limit.

It is believed the trawler has returned to the channel for the start of fishing season.

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin Project Lead, said: “This is the start of the 2021 supertrawler season in the channel.

“Although they fish year round, and across the planet, many of these 100m plus vessels target the English Channel through the autumn and winter months."

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

Data from the project shows 87 per cent of the 23 strandings between September 2019 and December 21, 2020, occurred when super trawlers had been in the area.

Thea 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, Porpoises 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.

“We experienced heart breaking scenes of bycatch dolphins and porpoises on Sussex beaches throughout the 2020 Supertrawler season in the channel and we expect this pattern to be repeated in 2021.

"Please report and stranded marine mammals to the Sussex Dolphin Project.”

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.”

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