MEPs miss crucial opportunity to protect our marine environment and juvenile fish | WWF

MEPs miss crucial opportunity to protect our marine environment and juvenile fish

Posted on 16 January 2018    
Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) swimming in open sea. Zákinthos, Lagana Bay, Greece.
© Michel Gunther / WWF
WWF has strongly condemned today’s vote by the European Parliament, which failed to reduce the environmental impacts of fishing activities in a regulation that was intended to conserve the marine environment. The text adopted merges 33 different pieces of existing legislation that regulate how, when and where fishers must conduct their fishing activities. Members of the European Parliament have turned their backs on European nature legislation and voted to lower existing environmental standards.

The vote is a missed opportunity for the European Parliament to adopt coherent European-wide rules to prevent iconic and protected species from being fatally entangled in fishing nets and gears, including many thousands of turtles, seabirds and marine mammals such as dolphins and harbour porpoises. With the mitigation measures adopted and the unjustified reduction of mesh sizes, the European Union will not reverse the situation and avoid unwanted catches. These unintentional deaths are a major threat to marine species, with an estimated 44.000 turtles and 200.000 seabirds dying every year in European waters, many of which are protected under the EU Birds and Habitat Directives.

Juveniles (baby fish) are another victim of the new fishing rules -  a huge blow to sustainable fisheries governance in the EU. MEPs voted against concrete targets and deadlines to protect juveniles which are caught in fishing nets before they are able to reproduce, with catastrophic impacts for the future of both fish stocks and consequently the livelihoods of European fishing communities.

“Today, the MEPs failed their constituents, our marine environment, fishing communities and consumers alike. With this weak position, the European Parliament won’t be able to negotiate robust conservation rules with the European Commission and Member States,” said Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy,WWF European Policy Office. “The European Union has missed an important opportunity to improve fishing sustainability and reduce the negative impacts of fishing activities on the marine environment.”

The only positive outcome is that the European Parliament voted against removing the general ban to use pulse or electro-fishing nets. 

For more information, please contact:
Ignacio Fresco Vanzini, ivanzini@wwf.eu,  +32 485464709
 
Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) swimming in open sea. Zákinthos, Lagana Bay, Greece.
© Michel Gunther / WWF Enlarge

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