The European Commission has unveiled today its proposal for an EU Biodiversity strategy calling for urgent action to protect nature in the EU and worldwide. The strategy claims to set up a full transformative plan towards an EU environmentally-friendly food production system that preserves and restores biodiversity. Europêche agrees that the EU must be ambitious in setting high environmental standards but not at the cost of increasing imports and lowering EU food production. EU fishermen oppose the new strategy since it is discriminatory, undermines the viability of the sector by decreasing its productivity and capacity to invest in improving social and environmental performance, further restricting the sustainable use of the oceans, subjecting fish products to additional taxation and making fisheries the target of discrediting campaigns.
The newly elected chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries (PECH) Pierre Karleskind (Renew Europe, FR), was guest of honour at last week's Europêche General Assembly meeting to discuss the many pressing issues faced by the fishing sector.
On 22 January 2020, the seminar ‘Can Fisheries and Offshore Wind Farms Coexist?’ took place in the European Parliament hosted by MEP Peter van Dalen (NL-EPP group), vice-president of the Fisheries Committee . The event brought together a large spectrum of stakeholders, including scientists, wind industry representatives, NGOs, legislators, and small-scale fishers from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal that are impacted by or exposed to existing or planned offshore wind farms. These EU fishers, representing small and medium family owned businesses, shared their experience and concerns on the increasing competition over the maritime space which is leading to the loss of valuable fishing grounds and access to healthy stocks.
A new report from the UN expert group on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has found that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history with many species facing extinction at accelerating rates. According to the report, the oceans are no exception to this trend caused by changes in sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. The European fishing industry, while acknowledging the potential risks for the marine environment, stresses that fishing poses no threat for the long-term preservation of marine resources. Proof of that is that thanks to fisheries management and industry-led efforts, fish stocks have been generally increasing in many areas such as the North East Atlantic, currently reaching levels 36% higher than in 2003. This positive trend shows that UN’s extinction warning particularly for fish populations is a bit far-fetched.