The Malta Independent 7 December 2016, Wednesday

EU is duty bound to safeguard traditional fishing communities - Alfred Sant

Friday, 29 January 2016, 07:42 Last update: about 11 months ago

The European Union is duty bound to safeguard the way of life and earnings of traditional fishing communities, especially in isolated or peripheral regions and where fishing activities are small scale, conducted by families, Alfred Sant, the Head of the Labour Delegation at the European Parliament said in Strasbourg before qualifying his vote in favour of the report "Multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean."

Dr Sant said this proposal provides another opportunity to signal that beyond participating in international conservation efforts of fish stocks, and implementing agreed rules, the European Union has another duty: protecting traditional fishing communities, especially in isolated or peripheral regions.

Dr Sant remarked that applying to small fishing activities, the logic used to regulate corporations is wrong. Such a logic makes traditional fisheries appear not to be viable, when they are. Speaking from the experience of Malta, Dr.Sant said, this has needlessly disrupted the work of fishing communities and weakened the social fabric that kept them cohesive. During recent years, the traditional fishing community in Maltese islands has been decimated. Quotas, new licenses and rules were applied on its operations according to Union directives.

Dr Sant said that aquaculture as a source of additional fish supplies is welcome. But economically and socially, it offers no compensation for the loss of traditional fishing. A new effort is needed to create a better framework for the operations of small scale, traditional fishermen. "I would urge that this be given priority, before further losses of manpower and resources are experienced in the sector," emphasised Dr Sant.

The Report aims at transposing into Union law measures of the multiannual Bluefin Tuna (BFT) recovery plan in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) at its annual meetings between 2012 and 2014. The current Bluefin tuna fishing quota system penalises small-scale fishermen. Large vessel owners are too dominant and harm the fishing sustainability. The S&D Group tabled the amendment on quota allocation for small scale fishermen for the plenary vote and Dr Sant voted in favour of it.

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