Known as fly-shooting – the practice involves multiple nets being used to encircle and capture entire shoals of fish. Heavy ropes then drag the nets across the ocean floor, displacing whatever is underneath.
There were originally just a handful of fly-shooters in UK waters, but their numbers have now grown to 75 high-powered boats using the method to scoop up bass and mullet.
The method has been compared to pulse fishing which uses electricity to catch fish.
It was banned by the UK after we left the EU over concerns about the effect it was having on stocks.
Now fly-shooting is attracting the same criticism, and outraging British fishermen who catch sustainably.
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In a letter to the Government department, they said: “We have concerns regarding the clear increase in the presence of very large and powerful fly shooters that are being seen increasingly in our western waters.
“We have received an increasing number of calls over the last couple of years with regard to the fishing effort and impacts of these vessels in the eastern Channel, especially with regard to non quota stocks.
“It does appear from our perspective that their presence in western waters is something of the marine equivalent of a land grab and this has not been helped by the reported lack of data on the number of vessels using this method of fishing and their catches, either historically or presently.”
They want the licences reviewed and claim that the new Fisheries Act gives the UK the power to act.
Mr Percy told the Telegraph: “The under ten fleet in the UK has been hanging on by its fingertips for years, increasingly reliant on fewer and fewer species, hemmed in by everyone from the EU fleet parked on our six mile line to increased calls for inshore MPA’s, licences capped, promises of a fair allocation of quota broken time and again, a draconian licencing regime and yet more restrictions on those few species that we are allowed to catch.
“Yet a fleet of hugely impactful, foreign owned vessels that provide next to no social, economic or environmental benefits to our coastal communities are licenced to fish in our waters whilst the powers that be decide on longer term access.
“Shutting the door after the horse has bolted comes to mind.”