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Photo: CEPESCA

They defend the sustainable viability of trawling gear, on which more than 22,000 fishermen and 8,000 European boats depend

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, January 21, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

THE EUROPEAN FISHING INDUSTRY SHOWS A COMMON FRONT BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION IN DEFENSE OF BOTTOM FISHING

   
• Announced the creation of the European Bottom Fishing Alliance (EBFA)


An alliance of fisheries organizations from 14 EU countries representing more than 22,000 fishermen and 8,000 boats, of which 900 are Spanish, met yesterday with the Commissioner for Fisheries, Oceans and the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, to tell him the importance and realities of bottom fishing activities across Europe.

The meeting was requested by the fishing industry due to the negative perception expressed by the European Commission towards certain bottom gear in the context of the Action Plan that the EC is developing to further protect fishing resources and marine ecosystems in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030. The industry showcased the sustainability and overall importance of these fishing methods across all EU member states and demonstrated that these fisheries are well regulated, controlled, researched and widely certified.

Industry representatives from across Europe spoke with one voice at the meeting highlighting the critical role that bottom fishing, both large and small scale, plays in ensuring food security.

The president of Europêche and general secretary of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca), Javier Garat, convener of the meeting with the commissioner, declared: "Our boats land more than one million tons of healthy and sustainable fish annually, which represents around 25% of total EU landings. The value of the landings generates almost 40% of the total income of the sector, contributing to the wealth, employment and industrial fabric of many coastal and peripheral communities”.

In the announced Action Plan, the European Commission is considering the introduction of limitations and restrictions on the use of bottom fishing gear.

According to Gerard van Balsfoort, co-convener of the meeting, “thanks to effective and science-based management, bottom fishing activities only take place on limited and highly resilient seabeds, which minimizes the impact on ecosystems and marine resources. Recent scientific research proves it.” In his view, “The Commission's policy direction on bottom fishing should be based on factual, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence and comprehensive impact assessments. Using pseudoscience or unsubstantiated claims, such as those related to the footprint of fishing or the sector's carbon emissions, to build EU policies will not help the health of the oceans or fishermen."

At the Brussels meeting, industry representatives announced the creation of the "European Bottom Fishing Alliance" (EBFA), which represents bottom fishing fleets based in the EU.The alliance will be launched next month with the aim of defending, supporting and showing the environment, economic, social and cultural realities of deep-sea fishing activities in the fishing nations of the European Union.

Europêche, an association that represents European fishermen and of which Cepesca is a part, requested the meeting to speak "in person" with Sinkevicius, and learn his real position on trawling gear, since 8,000 European boats and their crews, which represent 11% of the Community fishing fleet, 35% of the EU's fishing capacity and 38% of the sector's income.

It should be remembered that the Spanish trawler fleet has 887 trawlers -779 inshore vessels-, which represents 10% of the entire fishing fleet of our country and its activity generates between 250,000 and 300,000 tons of fish and shellfish of a total volume of catches around 800,000 tons. Trawling therefore accounts for more than a third of the catches of the Spanish fishing fleet, being the socioeconomic engine of most Spanish fishing ports.

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