Oceana urges the Balearic Government to prohibit trawling on the continental shelf
Oceana opposes the reduction in fines for recreational fishing infractions
Press Release Date: May 25, 2010
Marta Madina | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | tel.: Marta Madina
Oceana urges the Balearic government to prohibit bottom trawling on the continental shelf or at less than 150 meters depth. The international marine conservation organisation sent island authorities a series of comments on the new Fishing Law of the Balearic Islands that is currently being reviewed. In its analysis, Oceana also disagrees with the reduction in fines for recreational fishing infractions and points out the importance of Balearic marine ecosystems.
Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, stated: “We congratulate the Balearic government for presenting a text that clearly conveys the administration’s desire to advance towards sustainable fishing and the protection of the marine environment. However, more steps should be taken and measures adopted to make the Balearic Islands an international reference in sustainable management. In order to achieve this, trawling should be banned in areas where more sustainable gear can be used, like the continental shelf.”
Bottom trawling is used in the waters of the Balearic Islands to target bottom-dwelling species like mullet, octopus, hake and prawns. The use of chains to lift the species from the seabed, the use of heavy doors to maintain the mouth of the gear open and the high rate of bycatch and discards seriously damages marine ecosystems. As such, Oceana is satisfied that the text includes an obligatory reduction in the weight of the trawl doors, one of the elements that causes the most damage to the seabed, and calls for strict compliance with legislation concerning engine power and mesh size.
However, Oceana believes that the 50% reduction in fines for recreational fishing infractions is a negative aspect of the bill. There are roughly 70,000 recreational fishermen in the Balearic Islands, who represent high catch percentages and have a competitive advantage over professional fishermen.
The international conservation organisation points out that the bill should include measures that constitute a significant advance in marine conservation, such as the creation of a Network of Marine Protected Areas in the islands. Along these lines, last april, Oceana presented a proposal to president Francesc Antich to protect between 10 and 20% of the archipelago’s waters.
This project –which includes regional and national territorial waters- is in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity that requires members to protect 10% of their waters by 2012 and also the IUCN resolutions (International Union for Conservation of Nature) that call for the protection of 20-30% of world marine areas. Oceana proposes a combination of protection of marine areas and sustainable management of artisanal professional fishing and recreational fishing in order to make the Balearic Islands an international reference in marine conservation. These measures would allow marine biodiversity to recover in a short period of time, allow for an increase in artisanal catches and will increase the value of fisheries and tourism use of marine protected zones.