The NWWAC advised the European Commission to engage with stakeholders on Deep-Sea Access Regulation
The North Western Waters Advisory Council has called on the European Commission to engage with stake holders over the implementation of Deep-Sea Access Regulations.
The Commission has closed 87 areas of EU regulated waters to bottom fishing in general, something which has caused great concern to the fishing industry. The Commission claim the areas under closure are vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and need to be protected from destructive bottom-fishing methods. The areas in Spanish, Portuguese and Irish waters have been closed to all methods of bottom-fishing including trawling, gillnetting and long-lining.
The European Bottom Fishing Alliance has vehemently opposed the closure saying that up to 10,000 jobs in the fishing industry could be put at risk and the Commission had not conducted any analysis on the socio-economic impacts of its decision. The area closure covers 16,419 sq/km of seas.
In their letter of advice to the Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva, the North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) along with fellow AC, the South Western Waters Advisory Council (SWWAC) write:
“The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) would like to thank you for your letter from 13 September 2022 (Ares (2022)6322811), providing records of the stakeholder consultation carried out by the Commission services on the implementation of the Deep-sea Access Regulation over the past two years.
“Following a review of the records reported in your letter and further discussion with DG MARE Director Fabrizio Donatella at the last NWWAC Executive Committee meeting in September, the AC would like to highlight the importance of ensuring and improving dialogue with stakeholders on this matter. It is vital that the terms of the consultation process are clarified from the start to assure proper stakeholder participation and preparation of AC advice, as well as for proposals to reach all the stakeholders including shipowners and fishing boat captains, who must express their opinion.
“Director Donatella explained that a new ICES advice is expected in November 2022, although it has been announced its delay until mid-December, which will trigger the revision of the Delegated Act implemented this year, with Member States’ consultations planned for early spring 2023. The NWWAC would greatly appreciate to be kept informed on the consultation timeline and state of play and receive clarification on how the Advisory Councils can contribute and get involved. In this regard, the NWWAC believes that ACs should be invited to participate in future ICES Advice Drafting Groups on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), where they can provide useful input.
“It is also worth mentioning that the stakeholder meeting organised by DG MARE on 26 July on this topic highlighted a number of items to be considered before implementing next year’s Delegated Act. These particularly include analysis of the socio-economic impacts of VMEs and of possible conflicts with specific fishing gears.
“Finally, it is essential that an exhaustive survey is carried out about how VMEs could affect each fishing gear. Only bottom trawls fishing footprint has been considered, even though this regulation also affects other gears such as bottom-set longline or bottom-set gillnet.
“The content of this letter is also supported by the South Western Waters Advisory Council (SWWAC), following decision of the SWWAC Executive Committee on 10 November 2022.
“We remain at your disposal to elaborate on this request should this be necessary.
“Thank you for your attention on this matter. We look forward to your response.”