The European fishing sector as a whole is aiming to stage a concerted day of protest to highlight widespread dissatisfaction with the bans and restrictions to demersal fishing proposed by the European Commission, in particular through the Action Plan to protect marine ecosystems.
The European Bottom Fishing Alliance (EBFA), in conjunction with Europêche and EAPO, have chosen Europe Day, 9th May, as the date to demonstrate how fishing communities are reaching the limit – and the fears for their survival.
‘Fishing is a purely European policy, and the Commission is the sole administrator of the Common Fisheries Policy. Yet what should be a policy that unites fishermen and makes them proud of the EU, has instead become a source of a feeling of disfranchisement,’ said EBFA chairman Iván López van der Veen.
‘That is why we have chosen the Day of Europe as the date to sound the horns of our vessels, as the call of distress it signifies.’
The aim is for this symbolic action to serve as the framework for fishing communities to express their angst with local actions in ports and send the message to the EU authorities that fishing matters in Europe and that it has reached its limit.
‘We call on all fishing vessels and all vessels wanting to show their support to sound their sirens and horns at noon on May 9th for five minutes, whether in port or fishing at sea. A call that must be heard throughout the coast of Europe, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the North Sea, and the Baltic, but also those fishing in all the seas around the world. All in unison as one Community. We encourage fishers and citizens to film and record the sounds and upload them to their social media in support of this call of distress using the hashtag #SOS_EU_Fishing.’
He commented that the sector faces huge challenges – such as Brexit, post-COVID pandemic effects, competition over marine space with industries such as offshore windfarms, inflation, and skyrocketing energy costs, and described the European Commission’s Action Plan and its proposal to prohibit bottom fishing in 30% of our seas as yet another nail in the coffin of bottom fishing in Europe. This has already triggered the protests of governments, the European Parliament and the sector.
‘Fishers and their communities are European citizens. Through the Common Fisheries Policy we are under the stewardship of the European Commission, which should care for us. We fulfil our role by providing the best quality and healthy food to our fellow EU citizens. We do it sustainably, under one of the most stringent regulations in the world and we do it proudly. We deserve respect and recognition from the authorities. Instead, we see our way of life endangered,’ Iván López van der Veen said.
‘There is great discontent with the situation. Fishers have made huge efforts to protect the marine environment and recover fish stocks. Thousands of square kilometres have been closed to bottom fishing and 28% of the fishing fleet has disappeared in the last twenty years. But nothing seems to be enough. The Action Plan is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Fishers had enough and want to show their immense discontent. The future of their jobs and their families is at stake.’