The European Parliament votes to ban fly fishing in part of the English Channel | Fishing
The European Parliament has voted to ban ‘fly-shooting’ fishing in French territorial waters of the Channel, following reports that the technique, also known as demersal seining, was having an adverse effect. “devastating” on local fishermen.
Activists described the result as a victory for small-scale fishermen. Organizations representing coastal fishing communities on both sides of the Channel have warned that industrial trawling methods, including fly shooting, are decimating their livelihoods and the marine ecosystem.
While the European Parliament does not have the power to ban the fishing method, MEPs said Tuesday’s vote sent an important message to policy makers about the impact of fly shooting on coastal fishing communities . The vote on an amendment to the common fisheries policy, involving access to territorial waters, will now be considered by the European Commission, parliament and EU member states.
Last year, the UK was accused of allowing vessels using the fishing method “unimpeded access” to the English Channel without proper assessment of the impact on fish, seabed or means of livelihood of coastal communities.
“It’s a very important day for ocean and coastal fishing communities,” said Laetitia Bisiaux, project manager for French environmental organization Bloom. “MPs have been told of the destructive effects of demersal seine fishing by fishermen who practice this technique themselves. MEPs have listened to warnings that have long been ignored.
“The vote is a good political message from the European Parliament to fishermen and member states to ban this destructive technique,” she said.
Fly fishing boats, also known as Danish, Scottish or demersal seiners, pull leaded lines along the seabed at each end of a net that encircles and captures entire schools of fish.
An expert told the Guardian the method had between four and 11 times the “killing power” of inshore fishing boats.
The fisheries policy amendment was tabled by French Green MEP Caroline Roose, who said it was an “important first step” towards a ban.
Roose said: “Yesterday’s vote sends a clear message to fishermen and NGOs calling for a moratorium on demersal seines in the English Channel. The amendment itself allows the French government to ban its use off the French coast.
“This is only a first step because any decision to limit or ban demersal seines in the Channel will have to be negotiated with the European Commission and Member States. Public pressure will be essential to ensure that yesterday’s decision is actually implemented.
Activists and organizations representing small-scale fishers in the UK welcomed the news and said it was time for the UK government to act.
In June 2021, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was considering the potential impact of fly shooting on the UK fishing industry. The UK has licensed 15 fly-shooting boats between 2011 and 2021.
Jeremy Percy, Founding Director and Senior Advisor at Low Impact Fishers of Europe, said: “It’s a long way to getting something done, but at least Europe seems to be tackling the problem. We have become very efficient at catching fish, but management and regulation have not kept pace.
“We are all fishers and we all need and deserve to earn a living, but this should never come at the expense of another fishing sector and in particular such a vulnerable sector as the small-scale fleet. UK scale.
“It is all the more frustrating that we have left the EU, while allowing the large-scale destruction by larger European ships to continue unabated.”
Fiona Nicholls, ocean campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Encouraging news from France – French fishermen are being listened to. Now is the time for UK politicians to listen to what our fishermen need at home.
“Banning destructive industrial fishing like fly-shooting to properly protect UK marine protected areas must be a priority for the government in 2022. Using the post-Brexit licensing powers set out in the Fisheries Act, they could easily take quick action to protect our oceans. and fishing communities.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We recognize the concerns raised about fishing pressures in the Channel, including methods such as fly seining, and are working with industry on these issues.
“We have already stopped pulse trawling by EU and English registered vessels in UK waters and any decision on fisheries management in the future will be based on the best available evidence.”