Large pelagic drift nets, are nets of over 2,5-kilometer-long and many meters deep, that are left drifting in the ocean to catch any living creature that happens to swim by. The international community and the EU have long adopted a global moratorium on all large-scale pelagic drift-nets fishing in the world’s oceans and seas, especially to catch migratory species such as tuna. However, their use is still overspread, especially in the Indian Ocean, responsible nowadays for around 20% of the total catches of yellowfin tuna and high levels of by-catch of threatened and protected species such as sharks, marine mammals and turtles. The tuna fishing industry represented by Europêche calls on the EU and IOTC parties to stop turning a blind eye on this long-lasting problem and make a stand against these illegal practices during the next IOTC meeting.
A two-day long intensive negotiation finished this very morning with the difficult political compromise reached by EU Fisheries ministers on the catch limits for 2020. This agreement reconciles to objective to secure healthy stocks with the need to ensure the socio-economic sustainability of the EU fleet. The latter was acknowledged by the Council which, after a predominantly conservationist proposal from the European Commission, adopted a better-balanced decision in light of the socio-economic data provided by Member States. The industry will however face many challenges for next year due to the extreme quota reductions and restrictive measures adopted for key species such as cod in all EU waters.