GUE/NGL hosted an event on assessing the impact of super-trawlers and industrial fishing on small-scale and local fisheries at the European Parliament today.
The event brought together experts, conservationists, trade unionists, sector representatives and elected officials. Participants discussed the environmental impact of super-trawlers as well as the inequalities in fisheries resulting from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – which favours large producers – and the ongoing socio-economic impact on coastal communities.
The debate was a continuation of discussions raised at a similar event held last year in dialogue with small-scale fishers.
GUE/NGL MEP Liadh Ní Riada expressed solidarity with the struggles facing small fishing communities:
“We cannot underestimate the struggles and challenges that are facing our fishing industry. Small coastal communities will soon be relegated to being museum pieces unless we act now to not only safeguard our smaller fishing fleets but to nurture and invest in their growth.”
“We cannot tolerate super trawlers and the level of destruction they can cause with little or no value to the member states.”
“From the evidence on the ground and from working with and speaking on behalf of fishermen as a citizen of a nation with a rich heritage in sea-faring, there is massive inequality in terms of how small-scale fishermen are treated compared to the wealthy operators and owners of large-scale fleets. This inequality is not only with regards to quota allocation; in my own country, it is also an issue of how they are treated and criminalised by the authorities,” the Irish MEP continued.
GUE/NGL MEP Anja Hazekamp called for the EU to adopt policy that supports sustainable fishing practices:
“Super trawlers are having devastating effects on fish populations and the environment. Instead of focusing on short-term economic interests, the EU should ban super trawlers and invest more on selective fishing gears and sustainable fisheries.”
“Although in general small-scale fishing boats have a less devastating impact on the marine ecosystem, we should not forget that large numbers of small fishing boats can destroy fish populations as well. Therefore comprehensive environmental measures have to be taken to save our marine ecosystems.”
Highlighting the inequality in the Common Fisheries Policy, Galician MEP Lidia Senra called for fair quota allocations for small-scale fishers:
“We want a fair and transparent allocation of total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas, which take into account the socio-economic dimension of artisanal and coastal fishing, as this is vital for the local economy of coastal regions.”
“The current distribution consolidates an untenable model that only benefits large industrial fleets and compromises the future of the sector,” Senra added.
Portuguese MEP João Ferreira, the group’s coordinator in the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH), called for a fairer fisheries policy in the EU:
“This initiative helped understand the main constraints felt by fishermen and coastal communities in our countries due to the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. The decline in small-scale and artisanal fisheries is leading to social, cultural, economic and environmental problems, and having long-term effects on employment, food sovereignty and development opportunities.”
“It is clear that this centralised policy that privileges the fishing capacity of super trawlers and big enterprises must end. We need a policy that listens and privileges workers and their communities, while respecting the strategic interests of individual member states and safeguarding maritime ecological integrity,” Ferreira concluded.