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Tensions persist between fishermen from all over Europe and the UE against the European Commission’s “Action Plan to Protect Marine Ecosystems.” A plan that seeks to ban bottom fishing in 30% of European seas and to impose the Nature Restoration Law.

This week different fishing organizations and fishermen have gathered against the initiative. The European Bottom Fishing Alliance (EBFA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), supported by Europêche, EAPO, and Cogeca, are some of the organizations that have sounded the horns of their vessels against the plan. They expect that this strike will make the EU agencies reconsider the policies.

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According to the sector representatives: “Fishers and their communities have spoken loud and clear. We cannot further tolerate policies from the European Commission that put our way of life and future generations in danger.”

As EBFA reports, bottom fishing is on the verge of collapse. If the European Commission’s action plan and the Nature Restoration Law are implemented as proposed, Europe puts 25% of its seafood production, 7,000 vessels, and 20,000 fishermen and fisherwomen at risk.

Efforts over the years

As soon as the dangers of this type of enterprise became known, the fishing industry collaborated with the EU for effective management. Some of the improvement measures have been the mapping of seas to identify vulnerable areas, the closure of areas that required it, and the identification of sustainable zones.

Moreover, this fishing sector has also invested significantly in technology to become more efficient. Such efficiency is based on more meticulous selection, less impacting techniques, and the lower use of fuel, which implies a cost in equipment for the vessels.

Finally, among the facts provided by the EBFA, it was reported that the fish stocks fully assessed in the Atlantic had increased significantly, reaching ten years with levels of abundance 50% higher than in 2010.

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 “EU policies are bringing the sector to its knees. If we continue like this, we will only be able to consume seafood products from third countries, whose environmental and social standards are almost always lower than those of the EU. It is time for the EU to rethink where it wants the seafood to come from,” said sector representatives.

How is now the bottom fishing

The EBFA recalled with figures “the enormous progress made over the last 20 years in protecting the marine environment and rebuilding fish stocks”.

According to the organization, almost 100% of landings from EU-managed stocks in the Atlantic are sustainable. In these years, greenhouse emissions have been reduced by 40%, thousands of km2 have been closed to bottom fishing, and 28% of the fishing fleet has disappeared due to restrictions and adjustments in fishing capacity.

Furthermore, EBFA explained that in the western Mediterranean area, bottom trawler activity (days at sea) has been reduced by 30% over the years, which, added to further area closures, is pushing most companies below their break-even point. “But, in the eyes of the Commission, this is not enough,” the EBFA stated.

About EBFA

The European Bottom Fishing Alliance (EBFA) is a coalition representing over 20,000 fishermen and 7,000 vessels across the EU. Their mission is to raise awareness about the environmental, economic, social, and cultural importance of bottom fishing in the EU. The EBFA encompasses a wide range of bottom fisheries, operating in both EU and third-country waters.

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