At first I want to thank the World Wildlife
Foundation for inviting Living Sea to give a contribution for this
Living Sea is an environmental society, founded
in 1995. We have about 400 members, from which 100 are fishermen
or have other connections in fishery. We are an unpolitical NGO
with interests in the marine environment and resources.
We are working for an increased public attention
about the marine environment and the professional fishery. Within
fishery, we support the coastal fishery and the fishery conducted
in a way, which doesn’t damage or jeopardize nature – what we
have named ”real fishery”, as opposed to the industrialized.
We believe for example that the support for de-commission fishing
vessels should be given to the vessels and the methods, which have
caused the sad condition of our fish stocks. Instead of relatively
few highly fuel consuming vessels, we want a rich fishery from
more smaller vessels, which can conduct their fishery from the
many harbours. This should be a fishery which is conducted in
accordance with the marine environment – that is: not destroying
the sea bottom, nor damaging the stocks.
The methods employed by our society, are very
much centred around action. We are on the sea throughout the year,
in close contact with the marine environment and with the
fishermen. In this way, we also seek and gain contact with the
many people, who visit the harbours. It is important for the
public understanding of the fishery that people can meet the
fishermen in the many harbours. We also try to keep a good
relation to the media, to the authorities and to the politicians.
At the moment we are focusing on the very serious and wide spread
oxygen loss which is threatening the life in practically all
Danish waters this year.
I will here sketch the most significant of the
reservations, which Living Sea has about the EU fishery reform, as
it is projected, and which is sought to be agreed upon during the
The reform is useless when it comes to the adjustment of the fleet to the
resources. We believe that the common fishery politics should
decide against the vessels and fishing methods, which are the very
reason why we need the reform. We have heard that around 8,000
vessels needed to be taken out of the fishery. But when less than
1 billion Euro have been earmarked for this purpose, there will be
no realistic offer for the very big ships. This means that we will
instead continue at the useless course, which we have followed the
last 15 years, where more than 1,300 vessels have been taken out
from Danish fishery alone, without any improvement of the
situation. There has been no improvement because the fishermen,
who accepted this arrangement, were the fishermen who conducted a
fishery in balance with stocks and environment. In Denmark we
almost managed to wipe out the Danish anchor seine fishery, which
is a very gentle and sustainable fishery. Today, trawlers and beam
trawlers catch the Danish flat fish. This is the simple reason why
the billions spend on decommissions haven’t helped us getting a
more sustainable fishery on plaice.
With the reform, EU will stop giving subsidies for European fishery. This
is god, but not god for the environmentally sustainable fishery.
We believe, that the common fishery politics should support
building of real fishery because it can fulfil the aims of the
common European fishery politics, which is directed to rebuilding
of the stocks, and protection of the habitats.
The reform mentions the industrial fishery by saying that this fishery
should be investigated. We believe its reasonable already today to
have strong reservations about the sustainability of the
industrial fishery, when measured in terms of the marine eco
The common fishery politics should more actively, than it is the case
with the regional councils, make a concrete support for new
fishery societies and producers’ organizations. In Danish
fishery for example, there is a wide spread dissatisfaction with
the one organization, which ”speaks on behalf of all Danish
fishermen”. The common fishery politics should support the
European fishermen, who are unsatisfied with the big, national
fishery organizations, because these do not take into
consideration the special situation and needs of the smaller and
ecologically sustainable fishery. It is our experience that this
dissatisfaction is a real problem within large parts of European
fishery. But from this dissatisfaction and to actually breaking
with the big organizations there is still a distance.
There are other themes, I would have liked to
address, like the labelling of fish from sustainable fishery, the
role of the commission in relation to the ministers’ council,
and some other factors than fishery, which have caused the
historically low stocks – like the oxygen loss in the Danish
waters – but I want to make this one last statement on behalf of
the board of The Danish Society For A Living Sea.
We are critical of the common European fishery
politics, which has spend 10 years on trying to create a reform
for a more sustainable fishery, without having the needed backup
from the national governments and the major fishery organizations.
Until to day, this reform has only created a common understanding
in the individual countries for the facts that the European
fishery is too big for the resources within European waters.
The suggested reform will not solve the big
problems, which the future European fishery will face.