EU States oppose ‘blanket ban’
A coalition of fishermen, scientists and conservationists are joining forces to oppose the European Commission’s proposal for a ‘blanket ban’ on driftnet fisheries.
According to the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), the main driver for the Commission’s proposal appears to be the “failure of Italy and perhaps other EU States in the Mediterranean”.
The ban will enforce existing legislation prohibiting the use of driftnets for specific species such as swordfish, since some fisheries using the nets have high levels of bycatch of turtles and cetaceans.
But, the NFFO says the main problem with the ban could be its potential to close all of the UK small scale driftnet fisheries for herring, mackerel, sole, bass, salmon, sardine and mullet, some of which are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and none of which have a significant unwanted bycatch problem.
To add to the problem, the NFFO says the Commission has misunderstood the industry’s use of driftnets, since inshore small-scale fishing is generally about adapting to the seasons and targeting species that are available within the limited range of small vessels, using gear that is appropriate. A ban would mean these fisheries would be left to try to survive in other more pressurised fisheries.
As a result, the proposal for a ban is seen as “inappropriate, disproportionate and irrational”, but the NFFO adds that it accepts some fishing gear in some circumstances do pose an “unacceptable threat” to wildlife and it’s vital that bycatch problems in those fisheries are resolved.
The Commission has launched a “web-based consultation” on the proposed ban.
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