SUPERTRAWLERS are currently fishing off the coast - and a wildlife charity has warned that dolphins could be killed.

There are fears that the aquatic mammals could become stranded or caught in the four boats' "ridiculously large nets".

A wildlife charity has urged members of the public to report any sightings of dead dolphins washed up on local beaches.

Sussex Dolphin Project is concerned about the huge vessels, fishing in international waters, beyond the UK's 12-mile territorial limit.

Project lead Thea Taylor said: "We expect to see the evidence of their non-specific and unsustainable fishing practises on the beaches of Sussex soon, so please report any dead dolphins to Sussex Dolphin Project via our social profiles or website.

“Ideally we would like this to include clear photography and the exact location so that our team can get to the site to assess the body.”

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

Sussex Dolphin Project, a charity project of the World Cetacean Alliance, was alerted was first alerted to the presence of the Dutch trawler, Alida, earlier this week.

However, according to ship tracking website, MarineTraffic, it has since been joined by three other supertrawlers that are now fishing around the Sussex coast.

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

Ms Taylor, added: "The Alida is 99 meters long and has been fishing in the area for the last week and was joined in the channel on Thursday by the Carolien, which is 126 metres long.

"Add to this the Prins Bernhard (88 metres) and the Scombrus (81 metres) which are not quite as large, but still catch tonnes of fish per day as well as anything else that cannot escape their ridiculously large nets, including dolphins.

The Alida trawler was last seen fishing in the channel in early October.

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.

It is believed the trawlers have returned to the channel for the start of fishing season

Ms Taylor said: "Unfortunately the supertrawlers are going to be a regular feature in the channel off Sussex for the next few months as we are now into the pelagic freezer trawler season.

“This begins in the autumn and continues through the winter across the South Coast."

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