01/05/24 Ministry knows that trawling is harmful, but still allows it!

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Animal Friends invites you to participate in the public discussion which lasts until tomorrow at midnight

- Croatian trawlers are among the worst carbon polluters in the world and they endanger animal species

Animal Friends left a comment on the public consultation for amendments to the Regulation on issuing authorizations for commercial fishing at sea with a bottom trawl. They invite all people who care about protecting our sea to join by participating in the public discussion which ends tomorrow, January 6 at midnight, in opposition to the extension of the deadline for authorization of trawl fishing until December 31, 2026. “That would mean two more years of destroying the Adriatic Sea by trawling, which is extremely harmful. The recovery of the Adriatic is not possible by legal regulation of the use of bottom trawling nets, but only by their complete ban!” Animal Friends point out.

They explain that the continuous extension of authorization of commercial fishing at sea by trawling contributes to further destructive effects of this type of fishing on the marine ecosystem, climate change, and the planet: “Trawling nets destroy the seabed like underwater bulldozers and leave nothing behind!” This is why they propose to amend the Law on Sea Fishing and other relevant regulations to ban fishing with bottom nets completely, and until then, to ban any further issuing of authorizations of commercial fishing at sea with trawls.

It is interesting that the Ministry of Agriculture requests an extension of the deadline for trawling through amendments of Regulations which is under public discussion, even though they are well aware of its harmful consequences. In the document “Strategic Environmental Impact Study: National Aquaculture Development Plan in the Republic of Croatia 2021/2027”, commissioned by the Ministry, it is stated that in the areas far from the coast in the open Adriatic, the main pressures on the marine environment in terms of damage caused by human activities to the seabed are done by “the use of towing bottom gear such as dredges, bottom trawls, coastal trawlers, and farms that permanently throw shade onto the seabed with their infrastructure.”

Experts also warn about the same thing, so research by a team of 26 scientists and conservationists in 2021 determined that bottom trawling emits the same amount of carbon dioxide as the entire aviation industry. Croatia is among the ten countries in the world whose trawlers emit the harmful gases the most and it is also one of the EU countries that is most negatively affected by climate change. Croatian trawlers are among the worst carbon polluters in the world, and the Adriatic Sea is listed as one of three world seas whose improved protection could reduce carbon emissions and improve biodiversity. Research in the Adriatic Sea by Croatian scientists confirmed the harmful impact of bottom trawls for hake, squid, sea bream, seahorses, shrimp in the Brač Channel, and other species.

“As one fisherman admitted: ‘The protection of the sea should be among the most important things for every sailor, sea lover and, of course, those who live from it, and we as fishermen, realistically, are not good masters because we only take, and give nothing’. For years now, appeals by experts and fishermen who are aware of the impact of trawls on our sea have been ignored, and based on scientific research and the practice of using bottom trawls in the Adriatic, their use should be banned. Legislation related to the use of bottom trawls does not give results because many fishermen fish in those areas even at times in which they are not allowed at all. Further allowing the use of bottom trawls could only lead to even more drastic law-breaking and destruction of our sea,” Animal Friends says.

Even back in 2006, the Secretary General of the United Nations warned that 95% of the damage to the marine ecosystem around the world was caused by bottom trawling nets, which destroy the seabed, affect global warming, pollute the planet, and kill hundreds of thousands of marine animals every day. 80% of the bottom of the Adriatic Sea was destroyed by trawling! Oceana, the largest international organization for the protection and conservation of the world’s oceans, believes that a general ban on bottom trawl fishing instead of one at the level of a specific area would be more effective and make monitoring and enforcement easier. That is why they propose that the European Commission ban fishing with bottom trawls in all protected areas of the EU.

Therefore, Friends of Animals invite everyone to take the opportunity today and tomorrow and, with their comments at the public debate, appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture to cancel the new and any further issuing of permits for commercial fishing at sea with a bottom trawl without delay, as well as to legal amendments completely prohibit the use of bottom nets.

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