Britain is set to leave the controversial Common Fisheries Policy after the Brexit transition period and be able to set rules governing its own waters. MPs are currently debating a Fisheries Bill in the Commons to decide on rules which will come into force in marine protected areas next year.
An investigation by the Blue Marine Foundation revealed Dutch electric pulse and beam trawlers had been found fishing in the Haisborough and North Norfolk marine protected areas this year.
The environment group also found UK and German-flagged vessels using pulse trawling methods.
Electric pulse fishing involves dragging electrodes over the seabed to shock the fish living in the sediment and force them into the trawl net.
Beam trawling drags a heavy bar with “tickler” chains across the seabed and is not yet banned in marine protected areas.
An EU ban on electric fishing is due to come into effect on July 1, 2021.
Executive Director of Blue Marine Foundation, Charles Clover said: “Pulse trawling is devastating for the environment and not fit to be used in any part of the ocean.
“So it is deeply alarming to discover that pulse vessels are fishing in the UK’s own marine protected areas.
“It’s time for the UK to step up after Brexit and fix the Fisheries Bill so that these pulse trawlers are banned for good, not just banned in some parts of the UK and not others.”
A spokesman said: “We are putting sustainable fishing and protection of our seas and sea life at the heart of our future fishing strategy.
“This is why we have already put in place a ‘blue belt’ of protected waters nearly twice the size of England.
“The Fisheries Bill proposes a new power to allow the introduction of measures for conservation purposes, which will enable us to better manage our Marine Protected Areas.”