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“Brussels favors imports and synthetic fish”

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“Brussels favors imports and synthetic fish”

Clash on the Big Brother of the sea: “This is how the EU wants to bring synthetic fish to our tables”

“Covid and fuel price increases were not enough, now Brussels is also starting to aim to eliminate bottom trawling in the Old Continent by 2030. However, it is not clear how to replace it with what” he declares Francesca Biondogeneral manager of Federpesca. Of course, if you continue at this rate, current Community policy will favor imports and production of synthetic fish in the medium term. This is why Biondo is unable to hide his concern about what is happening in the Community at the moment with the new regulation which, in the latest version, provides for the obligation of cameras on board for boats over 18 meters. A sort of Big Brother of the Sea that doesn’t go down well with fishermen. Not to mention the license also for those who occasionally dabble with the amateur fishing.


In the background a question mark

What will arrive on Italian tables? “Products imported from every corner of the world with a degree of food safety lower than European standards,” she explains. And laboratory products, exactly as is happening with meat.

This is why Federpesca is on a war footing. He says no to Big Brother of the Sea and fishers that it criminalizes an entire category. And he threatens to intervene in every seat if the new Community rules damage the Italian fishing sector. A sector that sees us as protagonists in Europe with a fleet of over 12,000 fishing vessels, a farm production of 123,000 tons (in fourth place in Europe), 141,000 tons of fish caught at sea (eleventh place in the EU 27).

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The fishermen’s Big Brother risks setting a disturbing precedent

Adopted as foreseen in the draft, the EU regulation “it would create a precedent that does not exist in any other sector. In fact, it provides for the installation of video cameras that record the daily activity on board. What will happen next? Will there be night and day cameras in the office as well?” asks Biondo.

“We believe that this solution is absolutely detrimental to the dignity of this work and also confirms an approach of the European Commission which basically assumes that most fishermen are criminals and that for this reason they should be observed and monitored. But that’s not the truth,” he points out. Not to mention the privacy issue. “We are convinced that this thing must be stopped” he adds, explaining that Italy also has other associations on its side such as, for example, Europeche “

Something is wrong with the new EU regulation

Under discussion for five years, the latest text has undergone an acceleration with an “action plan that aims to almost substantially eliminate bottom trawling by 2023, a few months after the expiry of the commissioner’s mandate Pierre Karleskind” he resumes. “It seems to us an ideological approach just as we are talking about Europe’s strategic autonomy. If the intention is to dismantle bottom trawling, it must be known that Europe is being condemned to depend on the importation of fish products, probably less fresh and less safe, because it certainly won’t be consumers who stop eating fish ”adds him .

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In the background there is also the question of synthetic fish

Just like for meat, even for fish there are billionaire investments destined for the production of fish in the laboratory. “Certainly there is a push in that direction, but this seems genuinely absurd to us. All the more so from an environment commissioner who should also conserve and enhance biodiversity, which is precious in the Mediterranean,” explains Biondo. “Resign yourself to eat products made with the 3D printer it is not the idea of ​​food policy that we have and fortunately our government does not have at the moment either. We are satisfied that the Minister Francesco Lollobrigida it will be on June 26 in Brussels at the next council on the subject to testify to the opposition of the Italian government to these policies” specifies the number one of Federpesca.

The business situation is delicate

Italian companies are coming out of a very complicated period. “First the Covid, then the expensive diesel which was really a very hard blow because for a fishing company the cost of fuel is equal to 60% of the production costs. And between the end of 2021 and 2022, diesel costs more than tripled ”he adds. “This has led to a reduction in business activity and profitability margins. Many have found themselves in great difficulty. Today the situation is still not easy, but the fishing companies that have survived would like and intend to bet again on the future and resume a growth path that should also be supported by European and national policies”.

There is a desire to start again, but Europe is not helping

The sector is ready to get back into the game. “Right now we are in a position to recover, thanks also to the European fund Feampa 2021-2027 a series of important investments could be put in place to renew the fleet, to retrain the crew, to use more selective tools, to carry out projects to enhance the product and marketing” he explains.

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The funds are there, but they don’t go hand in hand with the regulations. “If in fact on the one hand the regulation tells us that we must reduce CO2 emissions, on the other hand European funds do not allow us to renew the boats of a fleet which due to its age and structural conditions can only be less safe and less polluting” he continues.

“We asked to be able to finance at least part of the purchase of new boats for the Italian fleet with the Feampa and instead we were told no. But help is given to young fishermen for the purchase of used boats. It’s a contradiction. And he’s not the only one. If we want to encourage young people to work in this sector and we tell them that they can do it by buying 40-year-old boats, it is clear that we are making the sector less attractive ”she underlines.

In summary, “we would like the same commitment from the Commission, if not a greater one, compared to what it is putting into these regulations for the decommissioning of European fleets” Biondo points out. With the addition of agreements on fishing in the Mediterranean also with non-EU countries to avoid unfair competition that is bad for the sea and for Italian companies.

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