Danish MEP and European Parliament Fisheries Committee Vice Chair, Asger Christensen will lead the battle on bottom fishing gear ban

Danish MEP and European Parliament Fisheries Committee Vice Chair, Asger Christensen (2nd right) will lead the battle on bottom fishing gear ban

“If trawling really destroyed the biodiversity in the sea, then one can also wonder why the fishermen keep trawling in the same fishing grounds?”

The European Commission’s decision to ban bottom trawling gear in 30% of EU waters has been met with strong opposition and now Danish MEP, Asger Christensen will lead the charge against it in the European Parliament. 

The vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee has been central in voicing his opposition to the Commission’s plans and will head the campaign in the Parliament to reverse the decision.

The Venstre Party politician who is a member of the liberal Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament has been appointed as negotiator for the liberal group Renew Europe, in important fisheries negotiations with the Commission.

In February this year, the Commission announced its plans to phase out bottom fishing gear in 30 percent of EU waters. The proposal has been heavily criticised from several sides, because it will have major negative consequences for fishing all over Europe if the ban is introduced. The European Bottom Fishing Alliance (EBFA) has been particularly vocal calling it their “Worst fears come through”.

Iván López van der Veen, Chair of the EBFA, declared : “The only effect that we know for sure, also recognised by the Commission, is the displacement of fishing effort to other fishing areas, which will increase fuel consumption, inaccessibility to target species and undesired consequences in the management of the fisheries and areas concerned. Fishing all species with a single gear is not possible, and if it was, it would not be without consequences, including for the environment. If the Commission wants to change the CFP it must do so following the established process: through the Parliament, only elected body of the EU institutions, and the Council, not through a backdoor.”

Speaking about the ban, Asger Christensen said: For me, it is absolutely crucial that this is going to be about development rather than settlement. The debate about trawling is very mixed. When you mention the word trawl, many people – including many of my colleagues – think that it is a large box that you drag across the seabed. It is no longer the case. There has been enormous development in trawl fishing,” says Christensen. 

“If trawling really destroyed the biodiversity in the sea, then one can also wonder why the fishermen keep trawling in the same fishing grounds, because then there shouldn’t be any fish left,” he says.

Asger Christensen does not expect the Commission’s proposal to become a reality.

He says, “There was a lot of opposition in the fisheries committee when we got the presentation a few weeks ago. The Left Socialists and the Greens thought it was a great idea, but everyone else was against it. I am also convinced that the Council of Ministers will put it down the table.”  

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