The Dutch claim victory over the French in the battle to ban flyshooting in the English Channel

The Dutch claim victory over the French in the battle to ban flyshooting in the English Channel

The European Parliament has voted not to ban flyshooting from the English Channel in a vote today, Tuesday 22 November 2022.

The vote ended with 608 in favour of retaining the fishing method, nine against it, and 13 in abstentions. Supporters of the fishing method believe that this win sends a strong message to those opposing it, that flyshooting is here to stay in EU waters, at least.

French environmental NGOs, BLOOM and Association Pleine Mer, along with inshore fishermen on the French side of the English Channel have been severely critical of the method they say are wiping out traditional French fishing grounds. Artisanal fishermen say they have been hit hardest as whole areas takes weeks to recover after it has been visited by a flyshooter.

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At the end of September, the controversial method of fishing, also known as demersal seine-netting survived a trialogue between the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

After an intense debate the outcome of the trialogue was announced by the EU Parliament who said:

“Parliament and Commission take note of the situation of fisheries in the Channel, where local and regional stakeholders and fishers raised concerns about bottom trawl fishing methods used by numerous vessels. They therefore invite EU governments to come up with joint recommendations in this regard, which the Commission could use to propose practical measures. The Commission will ensure that funding for related scientific research is available.”

The news was welcomed by Dutch fishing but eNGO, BLOOM called it a “Black Friday for coastal fishermen”. BLOOM had carried out a survey amongst French coastal fishermen with 98% polling against the industrial fishing technique.

Earlier in July, the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) voted in favour of banning the fishing method altogether.

In England, a consultation was undertaken by the UK Government regarding the future of flyshooting on the British side of the Channel. The consultation which closed on 17 November last included the following proposals:

  • Introducing an ‘entitlement’ which would restrict the number of vessels with flyshooting gear (0-200 nautical mile zone); and/or
  • Restricting engine power for demersal seine gears to 221kW or 600kw in 0-12 nm zone; and/or
  • Removing an exemption that currently allows a 40mm mesh size in a directed squid fishery (0-200nm); and/or
  • Restricting vessels’ rope diameter used in flyseine gear to 30-40mm (0-200nm); and/or
  • Restricting vessels’ rope length used in flyseine gear to 1500m if in 0-12nm and/or 3000-3200m if in 12-200nm.

 Reacting to the decision of the European Parliament today, Dutch MEP and member of the PECH Committee Bert-Jan Ruissen who is an advocate of the fishing method said, “The French attempt to keep Dutch fishermen out of the Channel using fly-shoot technology has been definitively averted. Our agreement received almost unanimous support from the European Parliament on Tuesday: 608 in favour, 9 against and 13 abstentions. Strong decision!”

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Dutch claim victory in EU Parliament over flyshooting ban in the Channel

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