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European Commission wants to ban bottom fishing gear

Click on the flag for more information about Netherlands NETHERLANDS
Wednesday, February 08, 2023, 06:00 (GMT + 9)

The European Commission wants to regulate fisheries through far-reaching environmental legislation and to ban bottom fishing gear with a step-by-step plan. 
Products such as whitefish, shrimps and crustaceans and shellfish will have to come from countries such as Russia, Norway and China in the future. The Dutch Fishermen's Union/PO Delta South is part of the European Bottom Fisheries Alliance (EBFA) and shares the article below .
The Commission's action plan is expected to be published in the second half of February and will propose banning bottom fishing gear in 30% of our seas. Over the past year, the EBFA has presented solid scientific information to the Commission services showing how we can better protect our seas while ensuring a future for fishermen and ensuring food security. Abandoning its duty to strike a balance between indispensable healthy food production and the protection of the environment, the Commission has chosen to follow the campaigns devised by the NGOs and draw a conclusion beyond discussion and reason.

Part of biodiversity strategy
The Action Plan is part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy which sets the target of protecting 30% of the Union's waters by 2030, of which 10% are under strict protection. As an economic sector completely dependent on the health of the oceans, the EBFA shares the need to protect our seas. However, as the leaked information indicates, the industry does not understand that this protection will involve a phase-out of active bottom fishing gear in all existing marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, by default and without regard to the needs of each MPA.
WWF analyses of 17 coastal Member States' maritime strategies reveal none are on course to meet EU climate and nature goals. © WWF European Policy Office. Source: WWF
It is highly questionable whether closing MPAs for bottom-disturbing fisheries guarantees the level of protection of the areas. Fishing is a perfectly regulated activity in Europe and no link has been demonstrated between the ban on bottom-disturbing fishing and the seabirds, mammals or turtles to be protected in the areas concerned. The EBFA therefore considers the standard ban on bottom gears in MPAs to be an objective that is clearly disproportionate, unjustified, not based on the best available science and contrary to international obligations.
EU dependent on imports
The EBFA also recalls that the EU is already highly dependent on imports of whitefish caught by bottom trawlers from third countries. In the press release, Iván López van der Veen, chairman of the EBFA, states that 70% of the fish consumed in Europe is imported. The action plan would only widen the gap in (seafood) food security in favor of countries such as Russia or Norway, which just keep going and make it difficult for the EU. It will also increase the pressure on the environment of developing countries and their food systems as more fish is diverted to our markets to fill the void left by a dwindling European Union fleet. The need to calculate the domino and substitution effects of this measure has been ignored.
Source: Fishermen's Union / vismagazine.nl | Translated from original in Dutch


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