The European Parliament rejects the ban on trawling in marine protected areas

Trawling, highly criticized by environmental NGOs for its consequences on biodiversity and the environment, will continue to be authorized in the protected maritime areas of the European Union. MEPs rejected an amendment intended to ban it, preferring instead to limit it due to the unexpected economic gains this method represents for fishermen.

“It is a real disaster for the climate and biodiversity”. The founder of Bloom, an NGO that fights against the destruction of the ocean and fishermen, Claire Nouvian, did not beat around the bush after the European Parliament’s vote on May 3 on trawling. In fact, MEPs have rejected a ban on trawling in marine protected areas in the European Union. However, according to the NGO Oceana, trawling, which consists of scraping the bottom of the sea with trawling gear, is practiced in 86% of them. The Bloom association considers it the most destructive fishing method that exists today.

In social networks, the case was particularly broadcast. A petition, supported by several personalities such as the journalist Hugo Clément and the humorist Nicole Ferroni, specifically asked to ban “destructive fishing methods and extractive activities in the so-called “marine protected areas“Despite the mobilization, the amendment of the green deputy Caroline Roose was not adopted, with 319 votes against, 280 in favor and 35 abstentions. The macronist MEP Pascal Canfin, from the Renew Europe group, said he was “in a personal capacity” favorable to this position but explains on Linkedin why it is a problem.

“I am also aware that this position poses economic problems for certain fishermen and certain territories, and that it also protects certain protected areas for birds, which can make it difficult for fishermen to understand the fact of prohibiting a fishing practice that has nothing to do with the protection of birds“, he writes. The former director general of WWF France therefore wanted to write a “compromise amendment“meant to ban”harmful techniques, including bottom trawling, in certain parts of its marine protected areas, starting with the most threatened, when the prohibition is considered proportionate after an impact assessment based on scientific advice”..

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This amendment, prepared with his colleague Pierre Karlesking, criticized both by environmentalists and by “industrial fishing lobby”, according to Pascal Canfin, finally did not appear, the MEP being convinced that he would not find a majority. This is another amendment by Pierre Karlesking that was approved by the European Parliament on the sidelines of the adoption of a report on the economy of the sea. “prohibit the use of techniques harmful” to the environment in “strictly protected” areasThe latter represent only 1% of European waters, according to environmental NGOs, and in principle are already free of “harmful” activities.

Is “a sad day” tweeted Green MEP Caroline Roose, who, however, welcomed the adoption of three of her own amendments. One of them foresees the prohibition of “extractive industrial activities, such as mining in marine protected areas“. Although not binding, these amendments are “an important step forward”, “a strong political signal” for the European Commission that must present its measures for the management of the seas and the restoration of natural ecosystems before the summer, estimates Nicolas Fournier, from the NGO Oceana. As a reminder, the European Union has committed to increasing marine protected areas from 10% to 30%. These areas, which were created to stop the climate crisis and the decline in biodiversity, are regularly singled out for actually having very little protection.

Marina Fabre Soundron @fabre_marina with AFP

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