Environmentalists Criticize New Fishing Rules

Environmentalists Criticize New Fishing Rules
Radio Free Europe – Prague,Czech Republic

EU: Environmentalists Criticize New Fishing Rules
By Jan Jun

Environmentalists are up in arms following a European Union ruling last week that rejected a proposed ban on commercial deep-sea fishing in the North Sea. Fishermen welcomed the ruling, saying it would help them after years of economic hard times. But marine-life experts claim the EU yielded to pressure from the fishing lobby. They say the deal favors overfishing, which could threaten the global food supply. And they say that the decision may even jeopardize the livelihood of fishermen.

London, 29 December 2004 (RFE/RL) — Last week, the EU Council of Ministers rejected a European Commission proposal to toughen commercial fishing regulations, including a ban on all fishing in some areas.

British fishing fleets’ representatives are pleased, saying they have suffered enough in recent years. Doug Beveridge, assistant chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organizations, told RFE/RL: “Part of the restrictions that have been imposed over the last two or three years has been a significant reduction in the number of vessels. There has been an increase in mesh size, and there has been a days-at-sea regime. They all point to a 60 percent reduction in mortality in cod, but the commission wanted to press ahead with further ill-considered and ill-founded restrictions.”

Beveridge added it was “unfortunate” that similar restrictions had also been proposed by the British Royal Commission on Pollution two weeks before the EU meeting. “They were looking at it from a slightly different perspective, and had an oversimplistic approach,” he said. “We did speak to the [European] Commission quite intensively about it. One of the problems with the Royal Commission report is that if it were imposed and applied the way they set it out, we would be back into that framework of the one-size-fits-all blunt approach from Brussels.”

The European Commission had originally sought deep restrictions in North Sea fishing, including a 60 percent cut in herring, 34 percent for cod, and 27 percent for mackerel, as well as a complete ban on fishing in some areas.

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