European fishermen’s group Europêche has called for an urgent meeting with EU fisheries commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, following the public demonstration by NGOs in Brussels at the end of last year calling for a ban on bottom trawling.
The NGOs delivered a petition to the commissioner with 1500,000 signatures calling for the phasing out of ‘destructive’ fishing methods, starting with an immediate ban of bottom trawling in all MPAs.
Europêche has asked for the meeting ‘to clarify the true roadmap of Europe to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems’. The group says it wants to meet the commissioner in person after he publicly supported the campaign for a ban, which coincided with the last day of the Commission’s public consultation on a new action plan for European fisheries within the framework of the Biodiversity Strategy 2030.
Europêche says it wants to ascertain the commissioner’s ‘real position on trawling’. It points out that 10,000 European boats and their crews depend on trawling, representing 11% of the EU fleet, 35% of the EU’s fishing capacity and 38% of the sector’s income.
It wants to know what security the commissioner can provide to European trawl fishermen who are ‘faced with purely demagogic campaigns, without scientific basis and incapable of measuring the consequences, both economic and social, for many communities of European citizens’.
The group says it wants a ‘serious and responsible dialogue’ on the issue, free from ‘emotion and demagoguery’, as ‘the only way to agree on fishing policies that support fishermen, coastal communities and the environment’.
Javier Garat, president of Europêche and secretary general of Spanish fishing organisation Cepesca, said the organisations were ‘really surprised’ by the attitude of the fisheries commissioner towards European fishermen.
It was ‘incomprehensible and unexpected’ and displayed ignorance of the fact that trawling has already been banned throughout the world in areas where there are vulnerable ecosystems.
“We fishermen regret the demagoguery of those who, without making a living from fishing, demonise trawling with false information that generates confusion among citizens, institutions and the people who represent them,” said Javier Garat.
Europêche also wants to point out to the commissioner that other citizens and economic sectors are ‘outraged by this unique environmentalist vision of fishing, due to its inconsistency, ignorance and remoteness from reality’.
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.