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Bottom trawling gear. (Photo: Oceana)

Bottom trawling advocates and opponents make their voices heard

Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Monday, July 14, 2014, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

On the eve of the meeting that the Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) will hold in Brussels, the voices for and against the proposal to ban bottom trawling are becoming stronger.

This Monday prominent street artists are making artworks simultaneously in six European capitals to express the social rejection of this fishing gear.

And the non-government organization Boom -- integrated in the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition -- announced it will lead a protest in Brussels against bottom trawling, since it is considered harmful to fishery resources.

This NGO, as well as other conservation groups, argue that the prohibition of fishing gear "would contribute to protect the deep ocean from blind and unnecessary destruction."

On the other hand, the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA), the Spanish government and some scientists argue in favour of this gear as they consider it is sustainable. They claim that it is possible to continue implementing this technique on the basis of scientific advice, defining the fishing zones and identifying vulnerable areas.

According to Javier Garat, CEPESCA secretary general, they hope to be able to counter radical environmentalists’ idea that determines this gear "is unregulated fishing activity, which implies launching the nets and catching the fish without any consideration."

The ban set in two years that has been raised in July 2012 by Maria Damanaki, Commissioner of Fisheries of the European Union (EU), must now be reviewed by the Board of Fisheries.

France and Spain are the main detractors, since their fleets would be the most affected by a possible ban on bottom trawling.

According to the Fisheries Secretary General, Carlos Dominguez, the trawling ban would affect 850 Spanish vessels, including the small size ones.

In terms of employment, 8,000 people will be out of business (2,500 employees in Galicia), and the fleet would stop invoicing about EUR 700 million.

"Trawling, like the rest of the gear, is neither good nor bad, it is sustainable if factors such as how, where and when it is used is regulated based on scientific grounds," stressed Garat.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, argue that it destroys the seabed and vulnerable habitats such as posidonia, sponge or coral meadows.

In relation to sensitive habitats, there are measures to protect them and in the EU 12,037 square kilometers are banned for the trawling fleet. Therefore, Garat considers Damanaki's proposal is "disproportionate," the newspaper Faro de Vigo reported.

"The Spanish position is that all fishing should be regulated according to a scientific basis and the measures must be fair and proportionate. Moreover, it is necessary to act on equal conditions and in coordination with neighbouring countries," he explained.

Meanwhile, the director of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Eduardo Balguerías, expressed that sustainability has to be environmental, social and economic.

"Our job is to diagnose the state of the stocks and make management recommendations," he pointed out.

Related article:

Galicia applauds vote against trawling ban

By Analia Murias
[email protected]


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