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Mussel Dredging Approval in Natura Area Criticised

26 March 2012, at 1:00am

DENMARK - The Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mette Gjerskov, has granted permission for mussel fisheries inside a Natura 2000 area, in the Little Belt, Denmark.

Oceana says it is deeply disturbed by this decision, which it says is a step in the wrong direction for a government that has prided itself on its efforts to support sustainability. "Mussel dredging is extremely destructive, and severely disturbs all benthic life, which can take up to 20 years for a full recovery," Oceana said.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that such a destructive method should be allowed inside a protected area,” stated Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea Project Manager. “All fisheries with bottom contacting gear should be prohibited inside Natura 2000 areas if any real attempt at protection is to be made.”

This permission grants fishermen the right to dredge blue mussels in the area until 28 February, 2013. The EU Commission warned already in February that judicial proceedings would be considered against Denmark if the environmental protection needs of Natura 2000 sites are not sufficiently taken into account.

In a press release, the Minister said that it is crucial that the management of mussel fisheries inside Natura 2000 areas, protects their unique nature and abides by EU regulations.

Oceana is soon to publish a report on fisheries management in the Baltic Sea and Kattegat, which it says will provide recommendations and guiding principles to move towards truly sustainable fisheries practices in the region.

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