Malta against proposed EU introduction of swordfish quotas

Roderick Galdes says that the Maltese fleet should not suffer the consequences of past illegal fishing by other fleets

Maltese government totally against introduction of swordfish quotas
Maltese government totally against introduction of swordfish quotas

The Maltese government is against a proposed introduction of a EU-wide quota on swordfish catches. In a letter to Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, parliamentary secretary for fisheries Roderick Galdes said that while the Maltese government was dedicated to the recovery of swordfish stocks, it was totally against quotas.

Galdes has written to the commissioner in response to a proposal he made for the introduction of a quota on swordfish catches, after alarms were raised on the sustainability of the stock by The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The organisation has said that stocks have falled by a third ove the past thirty years and that the situation now merits urgent action.

Galdes said that although the use of driftnets to catch swordfish has been prohibited for a number of years, some countries are still making use of them.

The junior minister said that it was unacceptable for countries that have not implemented these regulations to be rewarded with a bigger quota, at the expense of smaller countries like Malta, that followed the rules. 

Moreover, he said that the Maltese fishermen’s catch is insignificant when compared to that of other industrial fleets in the Mediterranean because of the fact that swordfish is caught using only hooks.

He said that the Maltese fleet should not suffer consequences of past illegal fishing by other fleets.

The government, he said, is proposing that between the 1 September and 31 March, no long line in the Mediterranean should be set-up using hooks smaller than 7cm. He added that the Maltese government is also prepared to extend the fishing season, which is currently closed, from three months to six months.

Another proposal by the government is that of creating Fisheries Restricted Areas wherever it is confirmed that there is a Swordfish spawning area.

Malta is asking for an exemption from new measures aimed at countries that have never declared catches of swordfish caught using driftnets. The exemption should also be extended to traditional longliners.

These proposals are to be discussed at a meeting of the Council of the European Union on Monday 10 October 2016.

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