Oceana demands a transparent and conclusive process from Morocco to eliminate driftnets

Following series of complaints lodged by Oceana and years of delay, Morocco begins withdrawal of driftnets to meet July 2011 deadline.

Press Release Date: February 2, 2011

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana celebrates the step forward taken by Moroccan authorities to comply with international legislation and demands that the process of eliminating driftnets be transparent and conclusive. For years Oceana has documented and lodged complaints about the presence of these illegal nets in ports such as Tangier, Nador and Al Hoceima, for the fishing of swordfish, tuna and sharks, although the use of this fishing gear is common in other ports of this country. The withdrawal of these destructive nets, which must be completed before July 2011, has been supported financially and technically by the United States and the European Union.

With the elimination of driftnets, the Moroccan fishing fleet will comply with the moratorium established by the UN in 1992, with the ban on this fishing gear by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) in 2003 and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).

Other countries such as Turkey have also announced the withdrawal of driftnets in 2011, while Italy, despite the ban on the use of this fishing gear by the European Union in 2002, has been unwilling to definitively eliminate it, and a part of its old fleet of drift netters is still using the so-called “ferrettara”. Oceana has demonstrated that the Italian fleet is still using these nets to capture large pelagic fish. Turkey and Morocco’s announcements and Italy’s compliance with the legislation would be a big step towards the definitive elimination of driftnets in the Mediterranean.  Spanish netters stopped using them in the 90’s and the Oceana campaign against the hundred French “thonaillers” ended in their reconversion or scrapping in 2009.

The eradication of driftnets in the Mediterranean is one of Oceana’s highest priorities. Morocco and Turkey’s recent decisions show great progress. However we must remain vigilant to ensure that this fishing net is completely eliminated and prevent cases of systematic non-compliance such as those involving Italy”, stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.

Driftnets are a type of fishing gear used to target various pelagic species. During the 80s and beginning of the 90s, this type of net became popular because it is effective and easy to use; it is a passive gear that does not require any degree of specialisation. However, they were soon monitored and regulated due to the lack of selectivity of this gear.

Adrift! Swordfish and driftnets in the Mediterranean Sea

The use of driftnets by the Moroccan fleet