The European Court of Justice refuses to grant this fleet a temporary exemption to permit the use of driftnets. Oceana has reported the French fleet on numerous occasions for using this illegal fishing gear in the Mediterranean, which operated with support from the French government.
In a press release, the French Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Michel Barnier, has raised the possibility of a conversion of the illegal French driftnet fleet which operates in the Mediterranean to other fishing gear.
Oceana commends the Moroccan government for approving a law that establishes a series of sanctions and compensations within the plan to eliminate the use of driftnets in their waters, and which will culminate in the complete prohibition of this fishing gear at the start of 2009.
The EU has agreed a new Regulation which introduces a driftnet definition into EU law. The Regulation’s main effect should be to finally halt the use of illegal French driftnets, often called thonaille, which are used in the Mediterranean despite being banned since 2002.
During May this year, Oceana documented the use of driftnets in the Tyrrhenian Sea in order to verify the effectiveness of the new “zero tolerance” policy of the Italian Minister of Fisheries, Paolo De Castro.
Oceana calls for urgent measures to be taken to halt this illegal and highly damaging fishing method and welcomes the intervention by the UK Fisheries Minister urging his European colleagues to take action.