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Prohibiting The Use Of Driftnets


GENERAL - Turkey and Morocco have prohibited the use of driftnets as of 2011.

This decision has been welcomed by Oceana, since the organisation identified and reported at least 30 Turkish vessels using this gear in the Aegean and Mediterranean to target swordfish and bonito in 2009. The number of vessels operating with this gear in Turkey is estimated between 70 and 150.

Oceana also accuses the Moroccan fleet of seriously affecting endangered species in the Alboran Sea and the Straits of Gibraltar, where it also shares fishing grounds with the Spanish longline fleet, competing under unfair conditions.

Morocco has benefited from various delays in the application of international legislation and both the EU and the US have invested millions of Euros to halt the use of this illegal fishing gear. As such, Oceana stresses the need to monitor the fleet undergoing conversion and ensure that the driftnets are not sold to third countries, like Algeria, so as to prevent the continued use of this illegal fishing gear in the Mediterranean.

After the EU prohibited these nets in 2002, some countries, like France and Italy, continued using them. Italy is the last country in Europe still using this illegal gear, which is sometimes camouflaged under the legal name of “ferrettara”.

In 2010, Oceana observers confirmed that the port of Bagnara Calabra, which had turned over 250 km of illegal nets in June, was still using the gear despite the fact that a number of vessels had already been converted for longlining.

Driftnets are a type of fishing gear used to target various pelagic species. During the 80s and beginning of the 90s, this type of net became popular because it is effective and easy to use; it is a passive gear that does not require any degree of specialisation. However, driftnets produce a bycatch of thousands and thousands of cetaceans and other endangered species.