View Full Version : MEP seeks clarity over driftnet ban

Davie Tait
13th May 2015, 17:09

CONSERVATIVE MEP Ian Duncan has criticised Socialist MEPs for blocking a vote in the European Parliament's Fishing Committee that would have rejected Commission proposals for a blanket ban on all drift-netting in EU waters.

After repeated efforts to have the European Commission regionalise their approach to the driftnet issue, Duncan lodged an amendment to the Commission proposal calling for its total withdrawal.

Last week MEPs from the Socialist & Democrat Group demanded that the amendment in Duncan's name be referred to another committee before being voted upon. It is expected that the matter will now take several months to return to the Fisheries Committee.

Duncan says the decision leaves British fishermen in no-man's land, and he called on the European Commission to withdraw their "one size fits all" policy and adopt a regional approach, which recognises the need for action in certain fisheries but accepts that not all EU fisheries are burdened with the same problems.

The Commission is concerned that large driftnets common in the Mediterranean are resulting in a significant by-catch of protected species including turtles, sea mammals and birds. The blanket ban approach has angered UK fishermen, who utilise the nets in a more restricted manner, and whose fisheries have been accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council (West Cornwall and Hastings)

Duncan, fisheries spokesman for British Conservatives in the European Parliament, said: "While protecting marine life is of undoubted importance, a total ban on small-scale driftnet fisheries without room for manoeuvre, is disproportionate and down right unfair. It is yet another example of the European Commission micro-managing fisheries from Brussels.

"Britain's coastline is home to hundreds of traditional, small-scale, family run driftnet boats. These have no impact on the surrounding marine environment and as verified by the Marine Stewardship Council have the sustainability credentials to prove it'.

"I put forward an amendment in the Fisheries Committee asking the Commission to withdraw their plans. As I have said all along, a regional approach is required. That is what the Commission promised in the recent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and that is what is needed now. The behaviour of the Socialist MEPs who blocked the vote, is just plain baffling.

"I have already raised my concerns in person with Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, urging him to adopt an approach which takes into account the different fisheries within the EU. Today I have written to him again, urging him to withdraw the plans. The European Commission cannot just talk the talk when it comes to a regional policy approach, it has to walk the walk."

Davie Tait
13th May 2015, 17:12
Drift net ban ‘badly wounded’ says NFFO


Posted on May 13, 2015 by Jenny Hjul • 0 Comments

THE National Federation of Fishermen’s organisations believes the ‘ill-conceived’ European Commission proposal for a ban on small-scale drift nets has been badly wounded – but warns the threat has not entirely gone away.

It says all the signs are that the Commission now recognises that the proposal was a ‘colossal misjudgement’; but having made the proposal, and with co-decision involving the European parliament still in in its infancy, it feels that it can’t lose face by withdrawing its own proposal.

An NFFO statement said: ‘The impression is that the Commission wouldn’t be too disappointed if its own proposal just evaporated or someone else (the Council or the Parliament) put it out of its misery.

‘The UK government and other member states, the regional advisory councils, and even some NGOs, have formed an orderly queue to denounce the proposal as a misconceived blanket measure that would rob a significant number of small-scale fishermen of their livelihoods, or in some fisheries at least a significant part of their livelihoods.’

The NFFO led a delegation of small-scale fishermen to Brussels last September to explain, in detail, to the Commission, what the effect of a ban would be and to emphasise that the drift net fisheries practised in the UK are fully in line with the best sustainability criteria. Some of them are MSC accredited.

The proposal now languishes in the European Parliament. Although it has been quite hard to read the voting arithmetic in the EP Fisheries Committee, there seemed to be a majority of MEPs in favour of killing off the whole proposal.

Others, although accepting that the proposal is flawed, want to retain the parts that would let them deal with deficiencies in enforcement in the Mediterranean.

The NFFO says it will continue to work with Europeche, the UK government, the regional advisory councils and individual MEPs, to ensure that this mistake never sees the light of day.