MEPs question Commission over proposed driftnet ban

MEPs question the proportionality of a universal ban on driftnets and asks the Commission to provide more data on the issue.

The European Commission wants to prohibit the use of all driftnets for fishing in the EU. The measure is intended to protect marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds which incidentally get caught in driftnets and die. But it became clear today that the proposed ban will face tough scrutiny and debate in the European Parliament.

As the Commission presented the proposal in the fisheries committee in the parliament today, 23 September, MEPs questioned the ban on several grounds.

Several MEPs, from left to right, said a blanket ban on all driftnets all over the EU would run contrary to the principle of regionalisation established in the new common fisheries policy. ”During the reform of the common fisheries policy there seemed to be consensus that we should have a more decentralised fisheries policy,” said João Ferreira (GUE/NGL, Portugal). Jarosław Wałęsa (EPP, Poland) also criticised the Commission for not taking into account the varying local contexts in different EU waters.

Clara Aguilera García (S&D, Spain) and Liadh Ní Riada (GUE/NGL, Ireland) were among a group of MEPs who said the proposed ban would be disproportionate because it would have strong socioeconomic effects and lead to economic problems for the fishing industry.

Some MEPs welcomed the intent to protect marine wildlife, but inquired the Commission on why they had not chosen other policy options examined in their impact assessment, for example a selected ban of the most harmful kinds of driftnet fisheries.

”Is there an analysis on what the effects would be of a driftnet ban? Would fishermen switch to other kinds of gear that in some regions might be even more environmentally harmful?”, asked Isabella Lövin (Greens, Sweden). Marco Affronte (EFDD, Italy) and António Marinho e Pinto (ALDE, Portugal) also asked the Commission to provide more data so that MEPs could judge the pros and cons of the different policy options.

Schedule for driftnet report
An exchange of views will take place in the fisheries committee 16 October. The rapporteur, Renata Briano (S&D, Italy), will present her draft report 3 December. Other MEPs can table amendments until 15 december and the committee vote is scheduled to take place in January 2015.

Documents & video
Find all documents and information on Legislative Observatory
Commission proposal
Commission Q&A on the driftnet ban proposal
Watch the fisheries committee meeting of 23 September

Hearing on IUU fishing
The fisheries committee this week organised a hearing on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The hearing can be watched here.

Axel Naver

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