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     Home > Culture and Society  >  2013-12-14 19:47:22
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Apostleship of Sea applauds new EU fisheries reform with reservation

Vatican City, 14 December 2013: The European Parliament this week approved a reform package to the EU’s common fisheries policy to ensure that overfished seas can repopulate.

The reforms which go into effect in January 2014, require European countries to set fishing quotas and fishermen to respect a maximum sustainable yield. Fishermen, in other words, will be allowed to catch no more of a particular species than it can reproduce.

The Apostleship of the Sea, the Catholic Church’s world-wide advocacy network which ministers to seafarers and their families, has expressed satisfaction with the new policies.
When Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure spoke with the Development Director for the Apostleship of the Sea’s office in the U.K., John Green, he said “over the last good number of years, (we’ve been) running down the stocks in the oceans. 88% of the fish in the Mediterranean for example, are over-fished and it just wasn’t sustainable.” Stocks in the Atlantic Ocean, he said, have been over-fished by nearly 40%.

As part of the new measures aiming to replenish fish stocks, the practice of catching and discarding unwanted fish will gradually be banned.

“That’s throwing away healthy fish back into the ocean - that was occurring just to comply with quotas.” While this may seem like a good idea, Green says “often these fish are dead or dying - some of them would be maimed and… the intention there was to play the system just to bring back the quota you’re allowed to catch and other (fish), whether you could or not, you’d just throw away.”

Sustainable fishing quotas will be established by each country, says Green. “Behind this, the aim was to create conditions where the European fishing fleet fishes sustainably and actually that will protect jobs in the longer term.”

Green, however, is disappointed by the reform package’s failure to ban deep-sea bottom trawling. These trawlers have giant nets that drag the bottom of the ocean and “scoop up everything on the seabed. This has been criticized by environmentalists for many years," Green stresses. "So it (meant) it wasn’t only bringing in fish that wouldn’t be consumable, but it also (has been) destroying the seabed, the very fragile ecosystems that are there, and also the very breeding grounds for the fish to reproduce successfully.”Source: VR Eng


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