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Major Concerns Over EC's Intention to Gradually Ban Bottom Trawling

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EU - The European Commission is shortly intending to adopt a legislative proposal aiming to gradually introduce a two year ban on bottom trawling in the deep waters of the North East Atlantic. This plan is causing concern among the fisheries sector.

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The respective Presidents of Europche, the EAPO and the Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Fish, Javier Garat, Sean O'Donoghue and Giampaolo Buonfiglio, immediately announced that, if this is indeed the case, subject to closely analysing the proposed text, they already shared major concerns and criticisms regarding the method and approach used throughout the process, which seems to have been subjected to strong external pressure.

The three Presidents are surprised that such a proposal may have been tabled without taking into account scientific recommendations from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) regarding the status of stocks of deep-sea species. They stated that it was concerning to see how intent Commissioner Maria Damanaki seemed to be on banning this practice although the main species fished by EU vessels, particularly in waters to the west of Scotland and in the Celtic Sea , conform with the objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield, according to the ICES.

Mr Garat, Mr O'Donoghue and Mr Buonfiglio are also extremely worried that, following pressure from external sources, the Commission seems to hope to adopt such an important proposal without having previously analysed the socio-economic consequences. Furthermore, the Commission has not consulted a single professional organisation, nor would it seem any formal or technical forums from the fisheries sector to justify such a proposal, which, if adopted, would lead to significant job losses in the current crisis situation.

As they have previously mentioned, the Presidents believe that there are no good or bad fishing methods and it is better to rather think in terms of well or poorly managed and regulated fisheries. Otherwise this could create a dangerous precedent, where precaution is the only approach mentioned.

Should the proposal to gradually ban bottom trawling soon be adopted by the Commission, Europche, the EAPO and Cogeca would call on the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to show their good sense and responsibility and urgently react on behalf of the EU to a decision that, if taken, would have serious consequences.

The three Presidents also announced that it is essential to objectively use scientific data on stock analysis, which today reveal that the situation of many stocks in North East Atlantic EU waters is positive, as shown by the recent communication from the Commission on fishing opportunities for 2013.

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