Friday, 12 January 2018 11:01

Belgium: New fisheries rules adopted by the European Parliament

EM1 18 News Int EUNew EU rules on how, where and when fish can be caught, were enacted by the European Parliament (EP). Key highlights are an EU-wide ban on the use of electric pulse fishing, simpler rules on fishing gear and minimum size of fish, more regional flexibility for fishermen, but also limits on catches of vulnerable stocks and juvenile fish. The new law, which updates and combines more than 30 regulations, also allows tailor-made measures that cater to the regional needs of each sea basin. During the vote on existing technical measures in fisheries, the EP adopted an amendment of importance to Croatian fisheries – the amendment to strike a Mediterranean Regulation provision which prevented the use of purse seines at depths less than 70% of their height, which did not suit Croatian fishermen and nearly stopped such fishing since Croatia’s accession to the EU in 2013. An amendment calling for a total ban on the use of electric current for fishing (e.g. to drive fish up out of the seabed and into the net) was passed by 402 votes to 232, with 40 abstentions. The EU rules, designed to progressively reduce juvenile catches, would prohibit some fishing gear and methods, impose general restrictions on the use of towed gear and static nets, restrict catches of marine mammals, seabirds and marine reptiles, include special provisions to protect sensitive habitats, and ban practices such as “high-grading” (discarding low-priced fish even though they should legally be landed) in order to reduce discarding.