Complete News World

A coalition of EU countries calls for countermeasures – Euractiv DE

A coalition of EU countries calls for countermeasures – Euractiv DE

The UK wants to ban British and European fishermen from fishing in 13 marine protected areas. However, nine EU countries, led by France, oppose the ban and call for countermeasures.

On March 22, the UK imposed a fishing ban in 13 marine protected areas.

Following pressure from the national industrial fisheries sector, France has formed a coalition of member states. It wants to pressure the EU Commission to impose sanctions against the United Kingdom for non-compliance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed by London and Brussels in 2020.

Bottom fishing involves dragging heavy nets along the seabed. This method is seen as destructive by environmental NGOs.

In 2023, in its “EU Action Plan for the Conservation and Restoration of Marine Ecosystems for Sustainable and Resilient Fisheries”, the Commission called on member states to ban the practice in marine protected areas by March 30, 2024.

According to a recent report by several European NGOs, 90 percent of Europe's marine protected areas are affected by such practices. So far, only Greece has imposed a fishing ban in its marine protected areas on April 16.

France feels prejudiced

After the British decision, French European Minister Jean-Noël Parrot visited the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. He wanted to reassure local fishermen who no longer had access to British fishing grounds.

He condemned the “potentially discriminatory” approach that could lead to “retaliatory measures”.

The treaty with the UK allows such measures (Article 494), but they must be “proportionate” and “non-discriminatory”.

For the NGO Bloom, the non-discrimination is obvious as the bans apply to both European and British navies.

The Marine Management Organization (MMO), the UK body responsible for the new rules, said the ban “only introduces management measures that apply equally to all vessels wherever they fish.”

For Louis Gustin, director of the Comité Regional des Pêches des Haut de France, discrimination is not just a question of the number of vessels. Almost 50 percent of ships in his region are affected.

He told Euractiv that the ban “targets the French and Europeans, as the British Navy uses other methods, in certain protected areas such as the strait between the English Channel and the North Sea (the Goodwin Sands and foreland areas).

In a statement, the British agency acknowledged that some states may be more affected than others because of the varying levels of activity in the Goodwin Sands MBA.

According to a recent study by Oceana, only six per cent of the 33,000 hours of bottom trawling carried out in British marine protected areas came from British vessels. Three countries were mainly affected: France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Conversations are ongoing

When contacted by Euractiv, a spokesperson for the EU Commission confirmed that negotiations with France are indeed taking place at the moment.

“The Commission is committed to resolving potential issues with the UK primarily through a cooperative dialogue,” a spokesperson told Euractiv. “However, the Commission is committed to protecting the rights of our fishermen and we are ready to use the tools of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” he added.

As of February 2024, Denmark and Sweden have already called on the Commission to act. This is because the UK has decided to close sandalwood fishing in an area of ​​the Togar Bank in the North Sea to protect seabirds.

Denmark, which catches most of the fish in the area, denounced this as de facto discrimination.

On 16th April Directed The EU Commission introduced a dispute settlement procedure for the first time as part of a trade deal with the UK. In this way, the common ground of sandalwood fishing should be found.

The EU action plan against fishing in protected areas is ignored

The EU action plan requires member states to publish their plans to set up marine protected areas by March 31. This includes phasing out trawling by 2030. NGOs point out that the practice is still widespread.

[Bearbeitet von Angelo Di Mambro/Zoran Radosavljevic]