French scupper law to protect British sea bed

15 July 2012

Source: The Sunday Times

Author: Bojan Pancevski

THE destruction of Britain’s sea beds by largely foreign-owned fishing fleets is to continue after the French blocked a potential EU ban on deep-sea bottom trawling.

The European commission had pledged to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gill-net fishing in European waters because such techniques do massive damage to the sea bed by dragging heavy gear across it, destroying all life.

However, on Friday, Michel Barnier, the French commissioner for the internal market, blocked the EU legislation that would have ended such techniques just 30 minutes before the deadline.

The draft ban explicitly mentioned the French and Spanish fishing fleets as the main culprits for the destruction of sea life in the waters around the British Isles.

Barnier, the former French agriculture and fisheries minister, who has close ties to the fishing industry, explained his move by saying that he was concerned about the economic and social impact of a ban on French fisheries.

“I am not opposed to the proposal, I have only requested additional time given the economic, social and human consequences that the measure could have,” he told the French newspaper Le Monde.

The French and other deep-sea trawlers are heavily subsidised by the EU, but critics have long argued that they are uneconomic, as well as environmentally destructive.

For more go to: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/searescue/article1081511.ece