The Beacon

Turkey to Eliminate Driftnets in 2011

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

About a month after Morocco announced it would ban illegal driftnets in the Mediterranean, Turkey has followed suit, announcing it will stop using the destructive fishing gear next year.

The decision follows intense campaigning by our European colleagues, who estimate that more than 500 vessels have been operating illegally in the Mediterranean, some with nets up to 12 miles long. It’s estimated that thousands of creatures, including whales, dolphins, sharks and sea turtles, are trapped by the indiscriminate fishing gear each year.

In 2009, Oceana identified at least 30 Turkish vessels using driftnets in the Aegean and Mediterranean to target swordfish and bonito, and there are an estimated 70 to 150 vessels operating in the country.

While Oceana is celebrating the announcement, our campaigners will remain vigilant -- laws prohibiting the use of this gear have been consistently ignored for nearly two decades. In addition, Oceana is concerned that the Turkish law would contain a legal loophole that would allow the continued use of this gear to target swordfish and bonito.

The UN passed an international moratorium on driftnets 15 years ago, and the EU instituted a ban seven years ago, but many French, Italian and Moroccan vessels have continued using them.

Oceana is calling for a driftnet-free Mediterranean by 2013 -- and this is another step in that direction.

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