The EU Commission’s plans to ban bottom trawls are making waves. The technology has been criticized for damaging the seabed. The Green Minister of Agriculture is still campaigning for them.
In the dispute over EU plans to ban bottom trawling in protected areas, Federal Fisheries Minister Cem Özdemir is backing shrimp fishermen. “Scientific findings show that shrimp fishing is gentler on the seabed than other bottom trawl fisheries,” said the Greens politician to the German Press Agency.
The comparatively light nets are used on finer ground, so that the seabed and the species found there recover more quickly than, for example, in the fishery for flatfish. “General bans lead to a dead end from which the shrimp fishermen can’t get out,” stressed Özdemir. According to the 57-year-old, the environmental impact of the different fisheries must be considered in a differentiated manner.
The EU Commission recently presented an action plan for more sustainable fishing. Accordingly, fishing with bottom trawls – i.e. nets that touch the seabed – should be prohibited in protected areas by 2030 at the latest. The first measures should therefore already be in place by the end of March 2024. On the other hand, there was great resistance in Germany.
Seas need better protection
The proposals of the EU Commission are not new legislative projects. When asked, the commission emphasized: “There is no automatic or complete ban on bottom fishing that would come into force in March 2024.” What the Commission is proposing is an exchange between fishermen and authorities at regional and national level. “We are asking Member States to create a roadmap to 2030 over the next 12 months.”
When the action plan was presented in February, Brussels also said: The EU states are expected to publish roadmaps by the end of March 2024, in which measures would be described how the action plan would be implemented. How bottom trawls could be specifically restricted in the future is still open.
The Commission and Federal Minister of Agriculture Özdemir agree that seas must be better protected. “The North and Baltic Seas are in poor environmental condition – there is no mistake,” Özdemir told dpa. Efforts to promote sustainable fisheries need to be stepped up, including greener bottom trawl rules. The Commission stressed: “Many fishermen depend on an intact seabed, which unfortunately continues to deteriorate across Europe.”