Trawl fishing and the 30% target for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as part of the Biodiversity Strategy

Trawl fishing and the 30% target for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as part of the Biodiversity Strategy

On 27 January 2021, Spanish member of the European Parliament (MEP) Adrián Vázquez Lázara of the Renew Europe Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“In its Communication on the Biodiversity Strategy, published in May 2020, the Commission set a target of 30% of EU waters to be marine protected areas, 10% of which should be strictly protected.

The Communication indicates that the Commission will present a roadmap and an action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems in 2021, and states that measures will be introduced to limit trawling ‘where necessary’.

Trawlers are of key importance in many European regions, including Galicia. Trawl fishing has been particularly hard hit by the gradual reduction of fishing quotas, Brexit and the effects of COVID-19. 15 years ago, the Galician trawler group caught 22 780 gross tonnes of fish, but at the end of 2019 only 12 880 tonnes was caught, a drop of 43%. The main reason for this reduction is the gradual loss of fishing quotas in Iberian waters (areas VIIIc and IXa, between the Miño and the Basque Country).

Taking into consideration the above, is the Commission considering limiting or banning trawl fishing in areas that fall within the 30% MPA target?”

On 27 April 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Designation and management of marine protected areas (MPAs) does not necessarily entail closure of fishing activities altogether, but rather establishing effective fisheries management measures according to the conservation objectives of the areas and on the basis of the best available scientific advice.

This may lead to prohibiting certain fishing activities in protected areas when it is necessary to fulfil the ecological requirements of the natural features which are the subject of protection.

As announced under the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the Commission will present an action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems by end 2021.

It will announce further action as regards the protection of sensitive species and habitats, as well as propose necessary measures to limit the use of fishing gear most harmful to biodiversity, including on the seabed. In particular, it will look at how to reconcile the use of bottom-contacting fishing gears with biodiversity goals, given that it is now the most damaging activity to seabed.

Any future measures would be based on scientific evidence and considered in the light of the objectives of the common fisheries policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats Directives. They will be implemented in a fair and just way for all.

The EU funds like the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund will continue supporting the transition to more selective and less damaging fishing techniques.”

Source: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2021-000475_EN.html

Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/fishing-boat-nets-sea-boat-shrimp-5903147/

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