Commission calls for driftnet ban

15 May 2014

The European Commission is calling for the banning of the use of any kind of driftnets for fishing in all EU waters as of 1 January 2015.

Although rules are already in place forbidding the use of driftnets to catch certain migratory fish, the Commission says the practice continues to be a cause of concern due to the incidental catching of marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds.

"Fishing with driftnets destroys marine habitats, endangers marine wildlife and threatens sustainable fisheries. I am convinced that the only way to eradicate this once and for all is to have clear rules which leave no room for interpretation,” said Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

We need to close any possible loopholes and simplify control and enforcement by national authorities. This will in the end also save the livelihood of those fishermen which have applied the rules over the past years. The ban sends out a clear message that we no longer tolerate any irresponsible practices,” she added.

The small-scale nature of the fishing vessels involved in fishing with driftnets do not operate in the same areas, making it easier to escape monitoring, control and proper enforcement of the EU legislation.

Banning driftnets responds to the new Common Fisheries Policy’s (CFP) goal to minimise the impact of fishing activities on the marine ecosystems and to reduce unwanted catches as much as possible.

Depending on Member States’ priorities, the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) could be used to support the transition towards a total ban provided that specific conditions are fulfilled.

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