Berwick MP urges Defra to drop proposed Holy Island fishing ban

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Berwick MP has called on Defra to drop a proposed fishing ban in the waters off Holy Island after warning of the ‘catastrophic’ consequences.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan has submitted her formal response to Defra’s consultation on the introduction of a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) off Lindisfarne, ahead of the September 28 deadline.

The proposal has attracted widespread criticism from islanders, who are concerned that effectively removing the fishing community from the island would be devastating.

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Ms Trevelyan said: “We all want to see sustainable fishing and healthy marine life, no one more so than the fishermen of Holy Island, who are already incredibly sensitive to marine life, and heavily regulated.

Holy Island harbour from Lindisfarne Castle.Holy Island harbour from Lindisfarne Castle.
Holy Island harbour from Lindisfarne Castle.

"Their approach is already sustainable, as evidenced by the healthy and growing seal population off Lindisfarne.

"Banning this small-scale sustainable fishing would devastate the community, removing livelihoods from fisherman and their families. The impact on the island would be stark as I have set out in my consultation response.”

She added: “I am especially concerned that the fishermen also act as coastguards and provide emergency first response and medical help on behalf of the North East Ambulance Service when access to the island is closed at high tide. If their livelihood is removed and they are forced to leave Holy Island, there would be a very concerning gap in provision.

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“I have urged Defra to drop this plan which would have negligible impact on an already highly protected marine area, but would have a catastrophic impact on the Islanders.”

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The MP surveyed local residents to get their views and submit them as part of her formal response to Defra.

Ms Trevelyan said: “I am so grateful to the parish council, local councillor Colin Hardy, Rev Sarah Hills and all the fishing community and other residents on Lindisfarne who have worked so hard to fight this proposal and taken the time to submit their views.

"We have a new Secretary of State at Defra, and I have asked him or one of his team to come and visit us to meet the community so he can understand why this is so important.”

The proposal is part of an attempt to re-wild the sea. If approved, fishing would be banned from Goswick to Bamburgh.