European parliamentary candidates called on by nonprofit to save the oceans

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium
France-based nonprofit BLOOM is calling on European parliamentary officials to do more to protect the ocean| Photo courtesy of symbiot/Shutterstock
4 Min

Paris, France-based ocean conservancy nonprofit BLOOM is calling on parliamentary officials – both incumbent and soon to be elected – to adopt its 15-point plan for saving the oceans and the livelihoods depending upon them, with over 100 parliamentary candidates already pledging their support.

Upcoming European parliamentary elections, which will take place in June, mark the start of a five-year term from 2024 to 2029 that BLOOM has labeled as pivotal to initiate significant social and ecological change.

“If we want to save the ocean and give the sustainable fishing industry a future, the next five years in the European Parliament will be essential,” BLOOM Association Researcher and Advocacy Officer Alessandro Manzotti said.

France holds the world’s second-largest national marine domain, just behind the U.S., and Europe leads globally in terms of marine area, making it essential that global ocean protection starts with Europe, setting a precedent for the rest of the world, according to Manzotti.

BLOOM’s 15-point plan is united by one aim: to “ensure a fair, sustainable, and healthy future for the ocean, Europe, its citizens, and the rest of the world.”

The first five points outline policy changes affecting fisheries, including banning destructive fishing gear such as bottom trawls and purse seines by 2030 and protecting 30 percent of European waters by 2030, increasing to 50 percent by 2050.

Other points include complying with international commitments established in June 2022 that aim to prohibit subsidies funding harmful fishing activities, as well as prioritizing small-scale and artisanal fisheries by allocating quotas and developing supply chains that benefit their work.

“These measures are not against fishers but, on the contrary, are indispensable measures for the long-term sustainability of the sector. The phasing out of trawlers should not be done by abandoning fishers to ruin but by accompanying them in the transition to low-impact forms of fishing,” Manzotti said.

BLOOM is also advocating for the suspension of new aquaculture projects along coastlines, except for shellfish and seaweed, and prohibiting the farming of carnivorous or invasive species to transition away from the industry’s reliance on reduction fishing.

Another point is more European-focused: promoting small-scale fisheries in European and national bodies.

Banning large fishing boats from the coastal band will protect the activities of coastal fishers, who are the majority in Europe in terms of people employed, who cannot compete with the industrial giants in the only waters in which they can operate. The measures we call for have an ambition that is as much ecological as it is social and economic,” Manzotti said.

BLOOM understands these will not be quick changes but believes that with parliamentary support, they have a chance to make a meaningful impact.

“Our recommendations are aimed at calling for a profound transformation of the fisheries sector but a transformation that would accompany the entire supply chain toward more sustainable practices. It would not happen overnight, although we need urgent and rapid reform,” Manzotti said.

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