Proposed drift netting ban

Having written to George Eustice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, expressing his concerns about the European Commission’s proposed blanket ban on drift netting, Peter Aldous has raised the matter with the Minister in the Commons. He has done this having received strong representations on behalf of Lowestoft fishermen and having liaised with Jerry Percy, CEO of New Under Ten Fishermen Association (NUTFA).

Mr Percy has sent a detailed letter to Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries European Commission in which he points out that the Common Fisheries Policy in the past had employed a broad brush approach that fundamentally failed to distinguish between the activities and impacts of the huge range of fishing gears and methods in use across the Union.

Mr Percy acknowledges the serious concern for the use of driftnets in the well-publicised Mediterranean fisheries where extensive lengths of deep nets take an apparently massive by catch of cetaceans, turtles and other non-target species, he points out that this form of drift netting is distant, both geographically and metaphorically from the far smaller scale and environmentally acceptable use of drift nets in UK and adjacent waters. He contends with Ms Damanaki’s statement that “drift net fishing with vertical nets is an irresponsible practice”.   Furthermore, Mr Percy takes note of Ms Damanaki’s comment: “It is a non-selective fishery which leads to non-targeted catches. It threatens marine wildlife and species which are protected under EU legislation.”  To the contrary, he is of the view that responsibly fished drift nets are entirely selective, not just in terms of species but also the size of the individual fish. Like passive netting generally, by setting the mesh size, one can ensure that juveniles are neither caught nor harmed in the fishing operation. At the same time and for the reasons provided above, the methods used traditionally in the UK and other adjacent countries pose no threat to ‘marine wildlife and species which are protected under EU legislation’. Like many pelagic fisheries, drift netting is a clean fishery, with only the target species being taken.

Mr Aldous commented: - “East Anglian fishermen have been using drift nets for centuries and whilst in the Mediterranean they are having an adverse effect on fish stocks, properly and responsibly used off the Suffolk and Norfolk coast they have no such detrimental impact. A blanket ban would have devastating consequences for those fishing out of Lowestoft and other local ports. I’m pleased that the Government recognise the threat and will be taking the necessary action to ensure that the necessary dispensation is obtained for the English inshore fleet.”

Mr Aldous in his letter to George Eustice requests that all be done to work with the European Commission to ensure that this ban does not take place and appropriate dispensations are received for English vessels.



Peter holds regular surgeries at various locations in the constituency. Please call 01502 586568 to make an appointment.

Next Surgeries - 2018: 
Beccles, Saturday 14th April
Lowestoft, Wednesday 30th May


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