Late conversion by French "opened way for possible bottom trawl ban" –

Late conversion by French “opened way for possible bottom trawl ban” Published:  30 July, 2012

A LATE change of heart by the French opened the way for a possible  European ban on bottom trawling, it has been revealed.

It came when France’s European Commissioner Michael Barnier withdrew his country’s veto. Bottom trawling is regarded as destructive wiping out entire fish stocks and marine life.

Heavy nets are rolled out across the sea bed and they are capable of catching almost everything in their paths. Environmentalists claim it is a destruction of habitat on a huge scale that would cause an outcry if it occurred on land.

France, who along with Spain, are among Europe’s main users of bottom trawling, especially in the North East Atlantic had planned to veto the ban, which had been proposed by the European Union’s Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki. She had decided to put forward the proposals after marine scientists warned the system of trawling is the main threat to deep-sea eco-systems and she sees it as a vital part of her overall reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

According to The Sunday Times, Mr Barnier announced his change of mind just 30 minutes before the deadline after anger against the French stance began to build up among other EU member states.These countries saw it as another example of France attempting to defend its own national interests at the expense of a more urgent need. Even the normally chauvinistic French press accused him of being a sales representative for the French fishing industry. However, there is still way to go yet before a ban is finally implemented – and the Spanish have yet to be won over.