The European Commission has unveiled today its proposal for an EU Biodiversity strategy calling for urgent action to protect nature in the EU and worldwide. The strategy claims to set up a full transformative plan towards an EU environmentally-friendly food production system that preserves and restores biodiversity. Europêche agrees that the EU must be ambitious in setting high environmental standards but not at the cost of increasing imports and lowering EU food production. EU fishermen oppose the new strategy since it is discriminatory, undermines the viability of the sector by decreasing its productivity and capacity to invest in improving social and environmental performance, further restricting the sustainable use of the oceans, subjecting fish products to additional taxation and making fisheries the target of discrediting campaigns.
On 22 January 2020, the seminar ‘Can Fisheries and Offshore Wind Farms Coexist?’ took place in the European Parliament hosted by MEP Peter van Dalen (NL-EPP group), vice-president of the Fisheries Committee . The event brought together a large spectrum of stakeholders, including scientists, wind industry representatives, NGOs, legislators, and small-scale fishers from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal that are impacted by or exposed to existing or planned offshore wind farms. These EU fishers, representing small and medium family owned businesses, shared their experience and concerns on the increasing competition over the maritime space which is leading to the loss of valuable fishing grounds and access to healthy stocks.
Seas and oceans are essential to human life in more ways than one might think. Since well before recorded history, humans have used the sea as a source of food, but a shift is occurring in modern times. Governments and new emerging industries are gradually looking at the seas as a source of minerals and energy, leading to a rough competition over maritime space. Namely, one of the human activities steadily growing its presence at sea is offshore wind farming, particularly in the North, Irish and Baltic seas. The fishing sector argues that this process is being developed without a careful analysis of the vast ecological and economic impact of such a use. In this ‘battle’, the fishing industry is losing valuable fishing grounds and access to healthy stocks. Europêche claims that EU’s climate and energy objectives are favoured, but not for the honourable reasons; why else putting the marine environment at risk and possibly changing the ecosystem faster than climate change could ever do?