~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 25 Mar 98 14:09:00 GMT From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com 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.