Protection of traditional fishermen should be prioritized.

In an intervention to the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said that it is imperative to protect the biodiversity of the Mediterranean and conserve fish stocks. However, he emphasized that it is equally vital to protect Mediterranean traditional fishermen.

The Labour MEP expressed his support for a report on rebuilding fish stocks in the Mediterranean region and argued that the “depletion of some stocks has been reaching irreversible levels.” Sant expressed concern that biodiversity is under significant danger and stressed that “immediate corrective action is needed.” Nonetheless, the latter action cannot undermine the survival of the fisheries sector but there should be more clarity about which fisheries sectors will be given the most priority.

The plenary was debating and voting on a report about the conservation of fish stocks in the Mediterranean. The report highlights that the common fisheries policy should be designed in a way that strikes a balance between economic,
environmental, and social sustainability.

Alfred Sant told the plenary that it does not make sense that measures intended to safeguard and rebuild fish stocks are instead serving the needs of industrial fishing, which has been largely responsible for the depletion of fish stocks while marginalizing traditional fishermen. He emphasized that his future vote on this issue will be based on both the need to conserve the fish species population and the need to safeguard the livelihoods of traditional fishermen who for “centuries constituted a vital pillar of the social fabric in the region.”

File photo:Alfred Sant