19 March 2008

French driftnets killed by the European Court of Justice

Oceana, an international organization that works to protect and recover the oceans in the world, has announced that the European Court of Justice has refused to grant France exemption from the prohibition of the use of driftnets in the Mediterranean.

Driftnets used to catch bluefin tuna and swordfish were outlawed in the European Union from 2002 because they constitute a threat to the conservation of cetaceans, sea turtles and sharks. However, years after the ban entered into force, France and Italy have continued using driftnets. While operations in Italy have been downright illegal, the French fleet had taken advantage of legal loopholes to continue carrying out its activities, with full support from its government. French driftnets have caused significant mortality to striped dolphins in the waters of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean cetaceans.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the French driftnet fleet should not have a temporary exemption from the ban as requested by its government. As such, France cannot offer the driftnet fleet its protection in 2008. Any fishing vessel using this gear to catch bluefin tuna must be sanctioned by French authorities.

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara

For more information:
Oceana's press release, 17 March 2008

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