Wednesday

22nd May 2019

EU cash used for illegal fishing, report says

Fishermen are continuing to use large scale drift nets in the Mediterranean despite an EU ban on the practice, while an environmental group claims to have proof that the fishermen are spending EU anti-drift net funds on new drift nets, or simply to fill their own pockets.

In a report sent to EU fishery ministers ahead of the fisheries council on Monday, maritime protection group Oceana accuses the EU of wasting tens of millions of euros on nothing.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The group has collected evidence that some of the fishermen take EU buy-out money to buy bigger and more damaging nets.

In 1998, following a decision to ban large scale drift nets, the EU directed fishery fund money to fishermen for the dismantling of their business or for replacing the forbidden nets with new ones.

Italy has reportedly spent €200 million euro, out of which 75 percent came from the EU, in converting its fishing fleet.

During two days only, Oceana's patrol boat photographed 37 boats using the forbidden nets on the coastline outside Sardinia.

"Some fishermen were using the same nets illegally; others used the same nets openly calling them something else. Others used new, but still as illegal, nets. All of the ships had received fund money to quit using drift nets", says Ricardo Aguilar spokesperson of Oceana.

Various other environmental groups have repeatedly accused the EU of not following up properly on how member states follow the drift net regulations.

"EU member states violating the ban should be prosecuted", Swiss-based WWF-International said last year after reports that drift nets were killing tens of thousands of dolphins, sharks, turtles and other vulnerable species around the Mediterranean Sea.

Fisheries Commissioner Borg, said in 2003 that "based on the inspectors’ observations and following contacts with the competent Italian authorities, the commission considered that Italy was not controlling and inspecting satisfactorily the community legislation as regards driftnets".

Ricardo Aguilar from Oceana, is hoping that Monday's council will result in a firm definition of drift net.

Should member states fail to submit to the regulations, Oceana is willing to appeal to the European courts, or to the UN.

In 1998, the EU forbad the use of large scale drift nets, complying with a UN moratorium on large-scale drift nets put in place in 1992.

Drift nets are used in a wide range of fisheries, usually deployed at or near the sea surface. Traditionally they were short, small-meshed nets but today drift nets can reach up to 60km in length.

EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday

Voters in the world's second-biggest election, the European Parliament ballot, will know before midnight on Sunday to what extent a foretold far-right surge has come to be.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Opinion

Voter turnout will decide Europe's fate

European voter turnout is in deep crisis. Since the early 2000s, the share of voters in national elections has fallen to 66 percent on average, which means that the birthplace of democracy now ranks below average globally.

Happy young Finns don't vote in EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Happy young Finns don't vote in EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us