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Monday, 16 November 2015

Death throes of the drift net ban

A rather bureaucratic exchange of letters between Commissioner Vella and the Chairman of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee signals the demise of the ill-founded proposal to ban small-scale drift nets. The proposal has been hanging around for the best part of two years waiting for someone to finish it off.



A rather bureaucratic exchange of letters between Commissioner Vella and the Chairman of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee signals the demise of the ill-founded proposal to ban small-scale drift nets. The proposal has been hanging around for the best part of two years waiting for someone to finish it off.

The proposal to ban small-scale drift nets emerged at the tail end of the previous Commissioner’s period of tenure before she left to take up a highly paid position with an international NGO. Her going-away present to the fishing industry has been a huge embarrassment to her successor who now is keen to bury it with as little fuss as possible.

A poorly considered, top-down, blanket measure, published with next to no consultation, the proposed ban was a reminder that the reformed CFP still has the capacity to make clumsy and frankly, stupid, legislation. If adopted it would have spelt the end of a significant number of sustainable small-scale fisheries.

The NFFO led a delegation of small-scale drift net fishermen from various parts of the UK to meet the Commission in September 2014 to argue strongly against a ban. The North Sea Advisory Council shortly afterwards adopted a very good paper, prepared by RSPB, opposing a blanket ban and recommending a case by case approach by regional member states.

Member states voiced uneasiness in Council and it was clear that the proposal was going nowhere.

The Commissioner’s letter now suggests that any issues relating to drift nets could be dealt with within the context of the new Technical Conservation framework, which we expect will emerge shortly and which will provide scope for a regionalised approach. The “current drift net proposal would …. be overtaken by this new proposal, said the Commissioner.”

Tony Delahunty, Chairman of the NFFO, said in statement, “It was vital that we won this one. The Commission’s blanket proposal had no supporting evidence and emerged to address problems in the Mediterranean. It was the worst example of inappropriate, top-down, measures that we had seen for a while. We can’t relax completely but it is very important that we have successful defeated this proposal and this letter is an important marker. And in the meantime small-scale drift-net fishermen can continue to fish sustainably.”

Full story courtesy of the NFFO website.