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European Commission presents new measures to ensure sustainability of fisheries

03/03/2023 | ,

— Proposal calls for phasing out trawling in all marine protected areas by 2030

— The target is to reach emission neutrality in the industry by 2050

Brussels, March 8th 2023. At the end of February, the European Commission presented a new package of measures to improve the sustainability and resilience of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector. The package consists of an Action Plan to protect and restore marine ecosystems, a Communication on energy transition in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, an evaluation on the Common Fisheries Policy and a report on the Common Market Organisation in these sectors. The Commission’s objective is threefold: to promote the use of cleaner energy sources, to limit dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce the impact of the sector on marine ecosystems.

This third point rises concerns again in bottom fishing gear, as the Commission calls on the Member States to phase out this gear by 2030 in all marine protected areas (MPAs); the current ones, which represent 12% of the marine area, and the new ones to be created until the 30% proposed in the European Biodiversity Strategy is reached. The Commission calls on Member States to adopt fisheries conservation measures in these areas with a clear timetable. The first measures should be in place by 2024 for all Natura 2000 spaces.

The Commission aims to make European fisheries and aquaculture emission-neutral by 2050. Improvements in fuel efficiency and a switch to renewable and low-carbon energy sources are proposed. An EU Fisheries and Aquaculture Energy Transition Partnership will be established, bringing together all stakeholders. In addition, work will be carried out on better technology transfer of research and innovation, the empowerment of workers will be promoted and the business environment will be improved.

Regarding the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), these proposals seek its full implementation and its adaptation to the environmental and climatic impacts of fisheries and agriculture. A Fisheries and Oceans Pact is proposed to bring together all stakeholders and contribute to adapting the CFP whenever the Commission seems necessary. A chapter on the empowerment of workers in the sector recognises the need for an analysis of the social dimension of fisheries (employment, gender, training, etc.) when proposing conservation measures and emphasises the need for generational renewal. To this end, the project “Fishermen of the future” will be launched and the scientific community will be asked for more social indicators to be taken into account in future proposals for fisheries management measures.

Measures not well received in Galicia

The announcement of the new package of measures was received negatively by the regional government of Galicia, as it ignores the socio-economic aspects of fishing and jeopardises its future. Antonio Basanta, Director General of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Technological Innovation, emphasised that the Galician Government will continue to seek justice for the fleet, which is going through difficult times due to this type of prohibitions established by the European Commission. For this reason, the regional government will meet with the Galician Fisheries Council and together they will analyse the action plan.

The ban on bottom fishing

Last September, the European Commission published an executive regulation banning bottom fishing in 87 areas considered as vulnerable. The regulation entered into force on October 9th. This decision has detrimental effects for the Galician fishing sector, part of a maritime industry that accounts for almost 5% of Galicia’s GDP. The regional government of Galicia joined, as an intervener, in the appeal lodged by the Burela Fish Producers’ Organisation.

More about: European CommisionXunta de Galicia


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