Subject: Drift-net fishing banned by Mi (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 11:04:30 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 98 14:09:00 GMT 
Subject: Drift-net fishing banned by Mi

Drift-net fishing banned by Ministers

   By Maxine Frith, PA News In Brussels
   A EU-wide ban on drift-net fishing, which kills thousands of
dolphins and whales each year, was backed by European fisheries
ministers today.
   British Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley hailed the backing of a
qualified majority of ministers in favour of a ban as a "major
achievement" for the British presidency of the EU.
   But ministers at the Fish Council in Brussels are unlikely to vote
on the matter today - delaying a decision until June.
   Ireland, France and Italy are opposed to a ban and ministers want
to negotiate a transitional period for phasing out drift nets and to
agree compensation for fishermen.
   Drift-net fishing has been dubbed "the wall of death" by
environmental campaigners, because thousands of dolphins and whales
are killed and thrown back into the sea as unwanted by-catch.
   The Striped Dolphin population has its numbers cut by 2% every year
because of the practice, used for catching tuna, salmon and swordfish.
   Campaigners want countries to adopt the "rod and pole" system of
tuna fishing which yields better quality fish and does not endanger
dolphins or whales.
   The United Nations called for a ban on drift nets more than
one-and-a-half miles long in 1992.
   The EU has already ratified this but the British Government has
made the outlawing of all drift nets a priority for its presidency.
   Mr Morley said: "This is a major achievement for the Presidency.
   "There are issues about compensation and transition periods and we
have got to give countries time to make the switch but this is a very
rare step - closing down a major fisheries sector."
   Britain has a relatively small drift-net fleet of just five boats,
but France has around 40 and Italy hundreds, with thousands of
fishermen dependent on the industry.
   The majority of drift nets are used in the Mediterranean and the
Bay of Biscay and fishermen say it would be difficult to convert
drift-net boats to other uses.