Economy. Spain will defend trawling against Brussels’ plan to eliminate it from protected areas by 2030
The European Union (EU) agriculture and fisheries ministers will speak at their meeting on Monday about the European Commission’s plans to phase out trawling from all EU marine protected areas by 2030, compared to what Spain advocates for sustainability. The seas and oceans are “fully in line” with the profitability of the fishing business.
This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, during the Senate plenary on March 7, an argument already advanced that he will use again on Monday to prevent the sector from being “demonised”.
Planas also expressed the need to act with caution when regulating trawling, a sector with 805 vessels in the national fishing grounds as a whole – just under 10% of the Spanish fleet as a whole – and whose activity is already subject to certain restrictions in marine or semi-surface zones.
The Brussels Plan aims to reduce the impact of seabed fishing due to its importance as hotspots for marine biodiversity in the EU, for which Member States are invited to propose joint recommendations and adopt national measures to phase out seabed fishing in all protected areas. regions by 2030 at the latest and not allowed in any newly created regions.
These measures, as explained by the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, aim to restore marine ecosystems and reduce the impact of fishing activities on the marine environment based on the commitment of the EU Biodiversity Strategy until 2030 to ensure legal protection of its seas while expanding marine reserves from 12 % currently down to 30%.
In its February 21 letter, Brussels defines trawling as “one of the most widespread and damaging activities for the sea floor and the environment”, which has already drawn criticism from the sector, including from organizations such as Europeche or European Bottom Fishing. Alliance (EBFA), which rejects the goal of phasing out this gear.
These complaints were also added to the complaints of various EU ministers, such as Planas or his French counterpart, Hervé Berville, who also expressed his “total opposition” to the application of the ban on background arts in marine protected areas.
However, Sinkevicius explained that the commission is not proposing a ban, but rather requires member states to implement all relevant measures before March 2024, and only then, once evaluated, can Brussels make a legislative proposal.
Fisheries Agreement with Morocco
On the other hand, the delegations of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will present information about the future of the Protocol of the Fisheries Association Agreement between the European Union and Morocco, which expires next July, and which could be suspended because its renewal depends on a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which has already annulled it to include it Western Sahara, a region awaiting decolonization.
This fishing agreement allows a total of 128 EU vessels from Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom to fish in Morocco’s exclusive economic zone.
The suspension of the fishing agreement between Brussels and Rabat may particularly affect Spain because it is the member state that benefits the most: of the 128 vessels with permission to fish in African waters, 92 fly the Spanish flag.
In particular, there are 22 artisanal sea trawlers in the north, 25 bottom longline trawlers also in the north, ten artisanal trawlers in the south, 12 bottom trawlers and 23 rod and line tuna trawlers.
In this sense, diplomatic sources confirmed that Spain would express its “concern” in this regard, while its priority is to reach an agreement “as soon as possible” in accordance with “all legal guarantees”, although it also specified that country. Aid is being planned for the affected fleet in the event of a possible suspension.
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