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Artisanal Fishers: EU Ban On Discards Enhances Overexploitation And Catching Of Illegal Fish Belgium, March 7, 12

The future of Mediterranean artisanal fishermen could be strongly affected by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform. On the occasion of a hearing held in the European Parliament last week, a representative of the Mediterranean Platform of Artisanal Fishers (France, Italy, Greece and Spain) has warned about the risks of the current CFP proposal for what represents the major source of employment in European fisheries.
"This proposal will represent a strong environmental and social crisis, as it will lead to the disappearance of this whole sector, favor social inequity and the deconstruction of the social fabric of coastal areas", said Miquel Sacanell, spokesperson for the Mediterranean Platform of Artisanal Fishers and himself an artisanal fisherman.
Artisanal fisheries represent 30,000 of the 35,000 boats which operate in the Mediterranean.
The only way to guarantee the future of Mediterranean fisheries and fishermen is to implement a system to deliver management plans at fishery level through co-management. Management plans should be designed and implemented by co-management committees in which all parties (fishermen, scientists, administration, representatives of the civil society, etc.) are involved.
"It is essential that co-management plans and co-management committees are considered and included in the current CFP reform. Efforts and funding should be directed towards implementing co-management", added Miquel Sacanell.
The Mediterranean artisanal fishermen are also concerned with the implementation of ITQs - C Individual Transferrable Quotas (Article 27), as they favor the access to resources to those economically stronger and they will almost inevitably result in concentrating the access to resources in the hands of strong economic monopolies. The establishment of ITQs is not proven to be an effective strategy for reducing the fishing effort; they just transfer and concentrate it.
Mediterranean Artisanal fishermen share their big concern on the current levels of discards and agree on the urgent need of strategies for its minimization. However, they disagree with the proposal of the discard ban for the CFP reform (Article 15, point 1) and consider it shouldn't be applied mainly because it legitimates a commercialization channel for currently illegal sizes and enhances overexploitation and catching of currently illegal fish.
Article 15 of this reform negatively affects artisanal fishermen and fish stocks by favoring and incentivizing those fishing practices generating discards. Artisanal fishing almost does not have by-catch, and practically no discards are generated.
"Management plans should provide strategies for delivering on the main conservation targets tailored to each specific fishery, including those needed to deal with access to resources, discards, fleet capacity adjustment, and minimization of impact of fisheries on the marine environment", explained Sacanell.
Artisanal fisheries have long been a fundamental pillar of Mediterranean societies and economies. Over the last decades the views of small-scale fishermen have been largely underrepresented in the EU decision making processes. A brand new platform of Mediterranean artisanal fishermen has now been created, bringing together fishermen from the different Mediterranean Member States and giving them a voice in Europe.