Small-scale fishermen join Greenpeace EU protest
Small-scale fishermen have joined Greenpeace in protests outside the EU council building in Brussels this week, as the EU negotiates over fishing quotas to be set for 2013.
Fishermen joining the protest came from France, Spain, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece. They called for fishery reform, holding banners in multiple languages reading: “Fishing quotas: take from the big, give to the small.”
Wednesday is the deadline for the EU to set catch limits in the North, Irish, Celtic and Iberian Seas and other areas of the Atlantic. The EU is considering catch limits in order to allow the fish population the chance to replenish itself.
“If ministers do the right thing, there can be a future in our seas, but there is no future in overfishing,” said Imanol Ugartemendia, a French fisherman from the Plateforme de la petite pêche artisanale. “We need to fish less and fish smart to protect our heritage and keep the seas healthy for our children. But cuts to quotas must not penalise those who use sustainable fishing practices, like hand-lines, traps or coastal nets. We should be given priority when quotas are distributed because we have the lowest impact on the environment and because we contribute most jobs and benefits for local communities.”
According to Greenpeace, small-scale fishing vessels make up about 80 percent of the European fishing sector, and this week advocates are pushing for fishery reform, while defending fisheries that already use sustainable practices.
“The EU’s mantra of more and better jobs is just a con if politicians do not back those that operate sustainable businesses,” said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director. “In fishing this means making sure that the most sustainable fishermen are allowed to fish, while the most destructive vessels and the most damaging fishing activities are scrapped. It is time to knock some sense and science into European fishing rules.”