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  • NEW EUROPE FISHING PRACTICES Can new technology save fish??


    BBC world news 25 February 2013
    Can new technology save fish?
    By Roger Harrabin Environment analyst

    The technology on trial at Denmark’s North Sea Centre
    Continue reading the main story
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    • MEPs back major EU fishing reform
    • Q&A: Reform of EU fishing policy
    • Shortages: Fish on the slide
    A technological revolution is needed for Europe to end the controversial practice of discarding fish, according to the EU’s fisheries commissioner.
    Maria Damanaki is calling for boats to be fitted with smart nets to filter out fish which would later be discarded as too small or above quota.
    And she wants more on-board cameras to ensure that crews cannot cheat on fishing rules.
    She told BBC News that the hoped-for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy could not happen unless fishermen harnessed new technology.
    Spy-in-the-wheelhouse CCTV cameras trialled in the UK are said to have cut cod discards from 38% to just 0.2%.
    Fishermen on the trial are obliged to land all the cod they catch, whatever the size. They have been rewarded with increased quotas and permitted extra days at sea.
    Ms Damanaki says cameras will be essential – especially for the biggest boats – if the EU adopts a policy of zero fish discards.
    Smart nets
    The other key technology is fishing net design, which Ms Damanaki says is the single most important component of fisheries reform.
    At the North Sea Centre in the Danish port of Hirtshals, fishery technologists are testing new styles of nets which may answer her prayer.
    Fishing crews travel here to learn about smart nets which separate catches by new designs.
    One innovation is a slanting plastic grid at the centre of a trawl net. Large fish are diverted by the grid into the keep end of the net whilst young fish and shrimps pass through the slots. The grid is bendable so it can be wound up with fishing gear.
    CCTV has been installed on some fishing boats in the UK
    The bendy grid costs around £2,000 – a sum which prompted British fishermen visiting Hirtshals to laugh out loud.
    But Mrs Damanaki told me she hopes to subsidise the cost of new technology for small boats by 85%. The bendy grid may prove the difference between being allowed to fish and being kept out of the water.
    The Rollerball net is another recent arrival. Traditional beam trawlers seeking flatfish drag heavy gear along the sea bed, churning up the sand and destroying much that lies in their path.
    Rollerball runs over the seabed on what look like beach-balls. It is said to reduce damage and drag by between 11 and 16%, and there are hopes for further improvements. Cutting drag also trims fuel bills and pollution.
    Embracing change
    Mike Montgomerie from the UK quango Seafish introduces crews to the latest technologies at Hirtshals. He said: “In the past few years I have noticed a real change among crews. They are hearing that the public won’t put up with wasteful fishing any more, and a lot of them are embracing change.”
    Ms Damanaki went further: “The most important (thing is) how we are going to implement selective gear so we can reduce unwanted catches. This is the most important element of the whole policy.”
    The crews I met appeared to be accepting change rather than actually embracing it.
    In Scarborough, Yorkshire, boat owner Fred Normandale said he resented the trial cameras on his trawler Emulator, but the trial made financial sense: “It feels like we are being spied on – I wouldn’t want the cameras to be mandatory,” he said. “I have only done it because they paid for it and made it worth my while in quotas and extra days at sea.”

    His skipper, Sean Crowe, told me the spy cameras have changed the way he operates. “It makes you think more about where you are fishing. In the past if we brought up a lot of young fish we might have another haul to see what would happen. Now we move somewhere else and we check with other boats to see what they are bringing up.”
    The on-board spy is a sophisticated system employing cameras; GPS; and infra-red and hydraulic sensors to monitor the winches. It produces a map of exactly where the boat has fished in the last two months, as well as evidence of what it has caught.
    The kit costs £7,000, installation adds £2,000 and software puts on a further £300 a year.
    Vested interests?
    But the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which is running the trial, says this is still cheaper than human observers on boats – and much more effective, as the computer hard-drives hold far more information.
    “A fisheries observer on a boat has one pair of eyes,” says Grant Course, head of the marine trials team. “With the cameras we can watch four areas of the boat at the same time, including the discards chute. We can see the fish being sorted. We really know what’s going on.”
    The wheelhouse spy has been used for a decade in North America’s successful attempt to restore fisheries, but it may be resisted by some European governments.
    The new net technologies are also effective, but the highly individual local conditions of fisheries may confound the sort of blanket technological rules that appeal to Brussels for ease of enforcement. A net that protects the environment in one fishery may not work well in another.
    It will be hard for politicians to sort genuine complaints about inappropriate gear from the vested interest that has driven Europe’s fish stocks to their current depleted level.
    Commission sources fear that France and Spain may accept the principle of a discards ban but raise sufficient technical objections over gear rules to render reform ineffective.
    That, insists Ms Damanaki, must not be allowed to happen. But it is a sign of the changing times that the EU is no longer talking about whether fishing reform is necessary, but how it is achieved.

    ESG Radio Broadcast 140213

    ESG Radio Newsletter Feb 14th 2013
    Hello- in today’s newsletter we continue our focus on our election wish list of 2011.
    Last time we looked at issues ranging from climate change to bunkering and how these need to be addressed from a local perspective. Today we look at: sewage treatment, conservation, planning, the environmental action management plan, cross border issues and epidemiological studies. By the way, if you miss any of these bulletins you can always find radio scripts and press releases on our website at: esg-gib.net.
    Our environment is precious to us all, it is life giving, and its own health is crucial to our very own quality of life. It is the fundamental premise that drives the ESG in pursuing our aims through lobbying, campaigning and generally promotion of these issues.

    • We begin this week with Sewage- not a savoury topic, we know, but a growing problem: to our north, we suffer direct discharge of Spanish sewage into still waters affecting an important beach, to the south, we discharge our entire sewage into open water, untreated, and illegal. The good news is that at recent meetings with the authorities, we understand that we will see action on this front for Gibraltar’s sewage management, at long last but we shall continue to monitor this. Our compliance should hopefully have a bearing in Brussels taking a firmer stand with Spain over La Linea’s sewage problems but we shall continue to keep up the pressure.
    • Conservation- the protection of our natural environment is very important to the ESG. We have lobbied for some years now to see tree planting programmes throughout Gibraltar and for the expansion and upkeep of green areas within the urban environment. The Commonwealth Park will provide such a haven in the town centre. It is important that 2013 doesn’t go by without the implementation of recommendations made in the Upper Rock Management Plan produced by GONHS some 8 years ago. We shall continue to lobby for this.
    • On Planning the ESG welcomes our seat on the DPC as we have been able to present concerns and recommendations directly within the decision making process. We have called for a review of the planning procedure- the current open nature of the DPC meetings addresses some of our concerns that previously existed. However, with various statutes and aged practices still in place, a new Town Planning Act is overdue and needs to go out to public consultation. Today we are still seeing the fruits of bad planning decisions made in the past. Such bad decisions will have long-term repercussions on our quality of life and that of our children so it’s critical to get the new Town Planning Act just right. For info, next planning mtg on the 19th Feb at 9.30am at the John Mack Hall.
    • Next we come to Gibraltar’s Environmental Action and Management Plan. This was first published in February 2011 after the signing up to an Environmental Charter in 2005. At the time we said it did not address all core issues with enough urgency, intent or transparency. Two full years later, and after mtgs and discussions along the way a new, revised version of the Plan is due to be published. We call upon Government to release this without further delay.
    • Next in our list is Cross Border issues – a big one, for sure. Just today looking south a thick band of smog sits upon the horizon, to the north, a thick sulphurous band of fumes is discharged from the refinery into a beautiful blue sky, beginning the filthy cycle of daily pollution into the bay environment once again. We had reached an important point some time back with a cross border group of NGOs lobbying a team of politicians apparently willing to listen under the Tripartite Process. Like a house of cards, this collapsed, and we are very much back where we started. We cannot and will not give up. We are in touch with some NGOs in Spain and are discussing joint strategies to continue the fight against bay pollution. This has to be tackled together and we shall persevere.
    • Now for Epidemiological Studies. After the Govt funded Epid Report was published, our advisers found the conclusions seriously lacking, and various recommendations were made to Govt at the time, and repeated again to the new administration. Discussions continue on this and we are now of the mind that long-term studies are an integral part of public health understanding and management but that reducing pollution to start with, is probably the more immediate way of bringing about a healthier society – we shall continue to lobby for both.

    For more information plse contact us at 200-48996 or 54960000. You can also join up and become a member. Check out our website for more local environmental news and also for a snapshot view of the biggest environmental stories making headlines in Europe today. That’s on esg-gib.net

    ESG on Europe Environmental Stories

    The ESG wishes to highlight the following link which provides important articles on major environmental stories in Europe. plse click on the following:


    ESG Radio Broadcast January 31st 2013

    ESG Radio Broadcast January 31st 2013

    In today’s broadcast we re-visit our wish list presented to all political parties at the last election. The core issues contained on our list have been in our sights since we first began campaigning for environmental change. We look v briefly at what progress and change has taken place so far. The full Wish list, published on our website, contains twelve core issues. Today we look at the first six: climate change, energy, pollution, traffic, recycling and bunkering.

    • Climate Change: It’s vital that we have regular public debate on this critical issue which affects every single citizen of the planet. We would like to see Government hold open meetings when presenting its reports on climate change and invite public input and participation. Businesses, NGOs, all political parties and the public at large should be encouraged to participate. In our view the debate should look at Gibraltar’s long term sustainability, and consider alternative strategies to move us away from our fossil fuel reliance and economic stability.

    • Next is Energy – though Government is looking at alternative energy options for Gibraltar, and inclusion of green technology is now compulsory in new housing developments, we still await the announcement of the new energy plan by Government which has been mentioned publicly several times. Many local citizens would also like to install solar equipment and facilities for this should be set up without further delay.

    • Pollution – this has always been one of our strongest issues; we have invested a lot of time and energy as a group in trying to reduce pollution both locally and in the Bay area. Because of our size, population spread and lack of buffer zones to any industrial activity, we have campaigned vociferously for higher than EU stds to be applied to protect public health and quality of life. We advocate the Precautionary Principle be used when assessing environmental impact from any industrial activity because, no matter how important economically an activity may be, our health and that of our families, is priceless. The ESG notes that although some progress is being slowly achieved to reduce excessive pollution locally there is still a long way to go and we shall continue to campaign for a cleaner Gibraltar.

    • Next is Traffic: we have seen various traffic consultation plans over the years looking at ways to address the problems caused by the high numbers of cars and motorbikes on our roads. Apart from improving traffic flow and better equipment to support this, cycling must be made safer, and a pavement study Gibraltar-wide should also be carried out to ensure that walking is provided for, even if this means some loss of parking spaces. Plans to rule out two stroke motorbikes and incentivising low emission vehicles are seen as welcome measures.

    • For our fifth issue we look at Recycling- The recently expanded recycling service now provided by govt brings us more up to date with the rest of Europe and is long overdue! Recent complaints on the street now refer to bins being too full –clearly services have to be stepped up but this is at least positive compared to years of virtually little recycling activity on the Rock. There continues to be an urgent need for netting to be installed at the City Dump to prevent airborne waste, and for a dedicated Eco park, a one-stop shop, to be created to encourage the public to dispose of all waste responsibly. This is also long overdue. On littering also there is a growing problem with cigarette smuggling related waste, visible in almost every corner of our town. Perhaps the ubiquitous black plastic bag could be banned as its impossible to trace the retailer who could be brought on board with guidelines on what their customers should do with their rubbish!!

    • Finally, we look at Bunkering. ESG concerns of fumes from bunkering have been taken seriously and measures implemented to reduce these within industry. Not all fumes or risks to the environment are eliminated however, and so we hear plans by current administration to move fuel storage to land based installation. While not supporting the oil industry per se, our group presses for best available technology and the precautionary principle to be applied in any planned installation to ensure minimal impact and maximum public safety.

    OK – that’s all for today! If you have found anything you have heard of interest and would like more information please contact us on : esg@gibtelecom.net or call us on 200-48996.Join us in a fortnights time when we shall be looking at: Sewage Treatment, Conservation, Planning, the Environmental Action Management Plan, Cross Border issues and Epidemiological Studies.
    Thanks for listening!