Celebrities including Thandie Newton, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Paloma Faith, Bella Ramsey, Mark Rylance, Jarvis Cocker and explorer Ranulph Fiennes signed their names to boulders dropped 28 miles south of Selsey Bill, West Sussex. Activists plunged a series of massive rocks from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in the Offshore Brighton marine protected area to close off nearly 55 square nautical miles of the sea from bottom trawling.
The environmental group says bottom trawling, in which heavy weighted nets are dragged over the seabed to catch fish, is ploughing up the sensitive seabed habitat for which the area is protected.
The gravel and rock seabed is home to wildlife including starfish, hermit crabs and anemones and is a rich hunting ground for skates, rays and other fish.
Any trawlers trying to fish over the boulders will get their gear snagged and ruined on the rocks.
The action comes after Greenpeace constructed a boulder barrier to protect seabed in the Dogger Bank in the North Sea from bottom trawling.
The Government has since proposed new bylaws to completely close Dogger Bank and South Dorset protected areas to bottom trawling, and partially close two other sites.
While Greenpeace welcomed the proposal, it warned 74 out of the 76 UK offshore marine protected areas were still open to destructive fishing.
Chris Thorne, of Greenpeace UK, urged the Government to “show more ambition” and ban destructive industrial fishing from all offshore protected areas. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said he was proud to put his name on one of the boulders.
“This action will play a small but significant role – and far more than our Government has so far done.”
Greenpeace informed authorities of each boulder’s location.