Dutch fishing and MEPs warn that the vote on the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 in could see the end of traditional trawling methods
Unrest has arisen amongst Dutch fishermen in the North Sea who fear that a vote in the European Parliament today will see the end of traditional trawling methods in EU waters.
Today’s vote is on the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 could see the end to traditional fishing methods for ground fish, as well as ending pelagic fishing for deep-sea freezer trawlers and will be another blow for their industry after losing the battle for electric-pulse fishing.
The EP debated a resolution on the biodiversity strategy in Strasbourg on Monday afternoon, and it will now be voted on today, Tuesday 08 June.
In it, the parliament expressed its concern about the “widespread disturbance of the seabed” by bottom trawls. This gear “contributes most” to discards into the sea and “has a very adverse effect” on the seabed.
The resolution states that bottom trawling must therefore be limited and must be completely stopped in areas ‘with vulnerable marine ecosystems’, including in areas where they suspected as being highly sensitive areas.
The resolution also affects pelagic fisheries, i.e, fishing with deep-freeze trawlers for shoaling species such as herring and mackerel.
The European Commission is being asked to develop a definition of “super trawlers” and consider measures to limit their activities in EU waters. The resolution states that the pelagic fleet should be excluded from marine protected areas altogether.
The final vote will be take place this evening.
Dutch MEPs Bert-Jan Ruissen (SGP), Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) and Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA) want fishing techniques to remain unaffected.
Ruissen says that he will vote against the biodiversity strategy in any case, partly because it wants to oblige each member state to declare 30 percent of the land and sea a protected nature reserve. “We think the targets are too ambitious and too strict. Moreover, no impact studies have been done at all. The European Commission sometimes seems to forget that we also need land and sea to produce our food,” says Ruissen. Schreijer-Pierik also votes against, according to her spokeswoman.
Van Dalen is in favuor of protecting biodiversity but calls the passages about bottom-disturbing fisheries “shocking” and “very harmful.” Whether he can agree to the resolution depends on whether the relevant fisheries paragraphs are amended.
EMK leader Dirk Kraak points out that many MEPs who decide on the resolution do not come from countries that border on the sea and “have absolutely nothing to do with fishing.” According to EMK, politicians are “generally also poorly informed and are guided by emotionally charged stories from environmental clubs.”
EMK recognizes in the resolution that feeds into the so-called Blue Manifesto. At the beginning of 2020, more than a hundred nature and environmental organizations from Europe signed this roadmap towards “healthy seas.” These include the World Wildlife Fund, the North Sea Foundation, Vogelbescherming Nederland and Greenpeace. The manifesto aims for 30 percent closed fishing areas by 2030, a ban on bottom-disturbing fishing techniques and an end to tax breaks on fuel for fishing vessels.