160 organisations call for priority access for artisanal fishermen

160 groups representing artisanal fishers and civil society groups are rallying in Brussels to deliver a declaration to the EU institutions calling on them to give priority access to fleet segments with the least impact on the marine environment.

“The fact that there are so many fishermen coming to the European Parliament today shows that we are serious about this,” said Jerry Percy of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association at a meeting held by the signatories in Brussels today to launch the declaration.

160 organisations from 17 EU member states have signed the declaration ahead of a European Parliament hearing on October 11 on how the proposed CFP reform will affect artisanal fishers. Many of these artisanal fishermen and fisherwomen are in Brussels this week to meet MEPs, Commissioner Maria Damanaki and the Council Presidency.

Coastal and artisanal fishers often work in a less intensive manner, using a range of seasonally diverse fishing methods with a relatively low impact on the marine environment while contributing to the coastal and regional economy. According to the declaration, however, the qualitative aspects of different fishing gears and practices have been largely overlooked by the Commission in its reform package.

“This declaration shows that we do not just have one European fishing sector – the industrial one – but several sectors. We as politicians have to decide to whom we shall give the right to fish. Your presence here show that there are fishers who want to fish responsibly,” MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda said at the meeting.

A few days ago, the think-tank New economic foundation released a report which shows that gillnets (used by artisanal fishermen) create more value for society than trawlers in terms of net revenues, employment, subsidies, discards and greenhouse gas emissions.

Axel Naver

Read the declaration and see the full list of signatories (Ocean2012)
Agenda for the hearing on small-scale fisheries 11 October (EP Fisheries Committee)

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