The low impact fishermen of the Baltic region join their forces
Ustka, 31st August 2015
Smaller scale fishermen from around the Baltic met on Saturday 29th August in Utska, Poland to demand a greater voice in fisheries policy to counter the ongoing disaster for cod and other stocks that threatens their very existence.
The meeting, organised and facilitated by the Low Impact Fishers of Europe platform [LIFE} gave fishermen from Poland, Sweden and Germany the opportunity to come together to consider and agree a series of initiatives and actions in an attempt to not only move towards more sustainable fisheries but also to ensure the survival and future prosperity of their fishing sector.
Speaker after speaker highlighted the dire situation for fish and low impact fishermen in the Baltic and the urgent need for much more effective management based on long term sustainability rather than on short term profit.
They demanded an end to pelagic trawling for Herring and Sprat for fish meal production in the southern Baltic, the introduction of a ban on trawling in Polish waters within 6 miles to protect the shallower and more biologically diverse inshore areas and a review of fishing for fish meal as this negatively effects the ecosystem balance to the detriment of fish and fishermen alike. The meeting also demanded that decision makers follow the ICES advice when deciding on TAC’s and Quotas for the Baltic Sea. Finally, they registered their disagreement with the reduction in the landing size for Cod in the Baltic and insisted that Member States immediately and genuinely implement the requirements of Article 17 of the CFP in order to provide a fairer allocation of quota in line with environmental, social and economic criteria.
Following extensive discussion, the fishermen present agreed to support LIFE to represent them in Brussels, they asked LIFE to provide a dedicated Fisheries Coordinator for the Baltic and to strengthen representation for smaller scale, low impact fishermen on the Baltic Advisory Council. They also recognised the need for access to specific scientific advice, that LIFE can facilitate, to provide support for sustainable practices.
They supported LIFE’s Criteria, aims and objectives: [see Annex]
1) Fishermen that use low impact gear and methods in terms of both selectivity and habitat.
2) That the owner is aboard the vessel when fishing.
3) Fishermen committed to ensure the sustainability of their activities by respecting the rules or in the event that such rules are absent or insufficient, they apply self-imposed measures to protect the fish resources and their habitats.
4) Fishermen that have high socio-economic value in support of local communities and are an important part of the cultural identity of those communities
as well as LIFE’s Aims and Objectives:
1) Grant the right to fish to those who fish sustainably;
2) Reduce fleet overcapacity where it exists, while preserving jobs in artisanal, low impact fisheries;
3) End harmful subsidies and unsustainable and destructive practices;
4) Restore the health of our seas in Europe and the rest of the world.
1) Create a single, strong and inclusive voice for low impact fishermen across Europe;
2) Enable European low impact fishermen to communicate publicly with one voice;
3) Underpin and encourage low impact fishing in Europe and the practical implementation of the reformed CFP according to the objectives as outlined in the Common Declaration;
4) Provide a specifically smaller scale, low impact viewpoint to the Commission and others with regard to European fisheries management and marine environmental issues;
5) Encourage and assist the creation of regional and national low impact fishermen’s organisations in EU member states where they do not exist and support existing entities.