MPs back new restrictions in EU's fishing emissions cuts policy proposal

A fishing boat at the port of Le Guilvinec, France, with a fisherman's dummy hung up as a sign of protest.
A fishing boat at the port of Le Guilvinec, France, with a fisherman's dummy hung up as a sign of protest. Source: SCANPIX / AFP

Introducing new fishing restrictions that reduce travel time is preferable to demanding all vessels switch to electric engines, the Riigikogu's European Union Affairs Committee (ELAK) said commenting on EU proposals on Friday.

"It is a very good thing that the European Union wants to make fishing and fishing fleets more energy-efficient and plans to reduce carbon emissions from fishing vessels as a result. At the same time, however, it must be remembered that we want to reduce carbon emissions in order to protect the environment and that environmental protection is a single entity," ELAK chairman Liisa- Ly Pakosta (Eesti 200) told ERR.

The committee discussed Estonia's position on the new proposals on Friday ahead of the ministers' meeting next week, which regional minister Madis Kallas (SDE) will attend.

It agreed that fishing fleets need to be renewed to meet climate goals and changes to the fisheries fund funding model are needed. Estonia also believes additional EU money is required.

Liisa- Ly Pakosta. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Pakosta believes prematurely scrapping seaworthy ships, as required by the proposal, would not be beneficial to the environment as additional resources would be needed to build new ones. Owners would also have to fund money to replace their boats.

"Looking at the bigger picture, it makes much more sense to consider that fishing restrictions are also a good solution to protect the environment. If you are only allowed to catch a certain amount of fish, there is no need to add to that the need to centrally regulate engine power," Pakosta found. 

"In countries where fishing quotas are already in place, there should be no need for forced replacement of engines, and therefore vessels," she added.

ELAK: No need to rebuild ships to increase the number of female fishermen

The committee also discussed a proposal linked to increasing the number of women in the fishing industry. The European Commission has suggested building separate cabins for women on vessels.

But the Estonian MPs found the proposal unnecessary, highlighting examples from Estonian military service and inviting officials from Brussels to visit.

"Estonia is the best in the European Union in terms of gender equality in military service, and we don't have separate barracks or dormitories. Manning fishing boats with more women should start with encouraging women in school and using robots for physically harder jobs. Estonia should therefore tell others that the technical limitations of fishing boats do not prevent women from taking part and that boats should not be built bigger for the sake of women," said Pakosta, who is Estonia's former gender equality commissioner.

The informal session of the EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Council will take place on July 17-18 in Spain, which holds the rotating presidency.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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