Deep-sea fishing brought into line with the CFP
Javier Garat: "It is a pity that the EU has included an 800m ban since it undermines the legitimacy of the measures of the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations”
The European Parliament, Council and European Commission have reached an agreement on new rules for EU deep-sea fisheries which it says should better protect deep-sea species while safeguarding the fishing industry.
The agreement brings the EU rules on deep-sea fisheries, which date back to 2003, in line with the sustainability targets enshrined in the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
It contains a number of new provisions, which include fishermen only being able to target deep-sea fish in areas where they have fished in the past.
Trawls below 800m will be banned completely in EU waters, and areas with vulnerable marine environments (VMEs) will be closed to bottom fishing below 400m. In addition, fishermen will now have to report how many deep-sea sponges or corals they catch and move on to other fishing grounds in case a certain maximum amount has been reached.
Finally, specific measures, for example landings in designated ports, will be taken to improve enforcement and control. Fishing authorisations may ultimately be withdrawn in case of failure to comply with the new rules.
Not everyone is happy with the agreement though. Europêche said that it is arbitrary and only responds to political interests and not to real environmental threats.
Javier Garat, President of Europêche, said: "It is a pity that the EU has included an 800m ban since it undermines the legitimacy of the measures of the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), namely NEAFC, and repeats the mistake to demonise, without any scientific evidence, a highly regulated and effectively managed fishing gear by RFMOs and Member States.”
However, he added that Europêche welcomes the other measures agreed for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and for better management of deep-sea species. Many of these respond to demands promoted by the sector itself or are in fact already existing measures regulated by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).
The new deep sea fishing regulation will now have to be formally approved by the Council, the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament and subsequently by the plenary of the European Parliament, expected in November.
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