The use of drift nets was banned in 2002 but exemptions were made allowing some to continue and these loopholes have since been exploited with particular problems of bycatch and illegal fishing with these nets in the Mediterranean and Atlantic tuna and swordfish fisheries.
“Fishing with driftnets destroys marine habitats, endangers marine wildlife and threatens sustainable fisheries,” said Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs.”
A ban of drift netting in the Baltic Sea took effect in 2008. Currently, fishing with small-scale driftnets in marine waters and river mouths is actively carried out in Bulgaria, France (both mainland and DOM), Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and UK (2)
. In UK for example, fishermen use drift nets to fish for herring, salmon, mackerel, bass, mullet and other species around the coast of the UK.
The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) has already supported a total ban on drift nets in the Mediterranean (3) and members, are considering the benefits of supporting a wider ban across the rest of the EU.
Damanaki said that drift netting “threatens marine wildlife and species which are protected under EU legislation. Tolerating this practice comes in contradiction with our newly reformed Common Fisheries Policy.” (4)
EAA has lobbied vigorously the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and still does, that more selective gear and fishing practises have to be introduced as a key response to possible negative effects from implementation of the discard ban/landing obligation and other vaguely phrased rules in the new CFP. (The new CFP took effect 1st of January but implementation will happen step-wise in the years to come). In this perspective – on top of the reasons given by the Commission - EAA is inclined to support a ban of small-scale driftnet fisheries in other waters than the Mediterranean Sea.
However, EAA is considering if a regional approach would suffice, and if the only or best way forward is – as suggested by the Commission – to ban all kinds of drift netting in all EU waters once and for all.
1 - European Commission proposes full ban on driftnets
- 14 May 2014
2 - The Commission's Questions & Answers on full driftnet ban
- 14 May 2014
3 - EAA supports a total driftnet ban in the Mediterranean Sea - 20 May 2014
- see also article by EAA member ‘APR’: Divieto utilizzo reti derivanti
- 21 May
4 – Damanaki blog post: NO MORE DRIFTNETS IN OUR WATERS
- 16 May 2014