Controversy in the EU over deep sea fishing; fourteen countries join the defense of trawling
Fisheries organizations from 14 EU countries, representing a community of 22,000 fishers and 7,000 vessels, launched the European Bottom Fishing Alliance, EBFA, last week in the European Parliament.
EBFA representatives presented the reality of fishing across Europe and defended the use of active bottom gears as a sustainable activity. MEP Peter van Dalen, Vice-Chair of the Fisheries Committee, spoke of the valuable contribution of EU fleets in stark contrast to the negative perception expressed by the European Commission towards bottom gears.
EBFA raised concerns about the possible implications of the phasing out of bottom contact gear in the next EU action plan to further protect fisheries resources and marine ecosystems in the context of the EU’s 2030 biodiversity strategy.
The alliance of fourteen countries has highlighted the sustainability and global importance of these widespread fishing methods in all EU Member States, which bring ashore more than one million tonnes of healthy and healthy seafood. sustainable every year. This represents 25% of total EU landings and generates nearly 40% of the sector’s total income, contributing to the wealth, employment and industrial fabric of many coastal communities. The sector recalled that these fisheries are well regulated, controlled, studied and widely certified.
According to the EBFA, all these achievements could be lost if the announced action plan, in line with the European Commission’s biodiversity strategy, progressively restricts and ends up phasing out the use of fishing gear in contact with the bottom. .
Iván López van der Veen, President of EBFA, said: “We are ready to fight with science and data all the myths surrounding our activities. We mapped the seas to identify vulnerable areas, we closed fishing areas when and where necessary. Our ships are more selective, use less impactful techniques and consume less fuel. We call on EU authorities to continue investing in science, management and innovation. Phasing out bottom gears is not the answer, particularly if the EU is serious about reducing its reliance on imported food.
However, environmental organizations and even the European Commission question the sustainability of these gears, identifying active bottom gears such as bottom trawling as “the most damaging activity to the seabed”.
EBFA argues that scientists believe ocean warming, acidification and sea level rise are the main threats to the marine environment, not fisheries. Closing certain parts of the ocean to fishing will not solve the problems.
Mr. López commented: “Trawling to catch fish certainly has an impact on the environment, no one denies that. Everything we eat costs the planet something. But through effective science-based management, the EU and the industry strive to fish sustainably with minimal impact. In addition, bottom fishing activities are today more or less closed on historical fishing areas”. He concluded: “We can and will do better, but we need evidence-based, scientific and peer-reviewed policies and comprehensive impact assessments. We call on the EU to establish clear channels for the fleet to participate in scientific and technical efforts as equals and experts. The industry wants to develop a higher level of trust and transparency in our activities to underpin our social license. Phasing out perfectly legal fishing gear will not help ocean health or fishers.
The EBFA concluded that the Commission cannot sacrifice sustainable, certified EU fishing to please a few environmental organizations while continuing to accept large-scale imports from non-EU bottom trawl fisheries. The fourteen member countries of the EBFA are Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal , Spain and Sweden.