E.U. plans payments for fishermen who catch plastic

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, May 5, 2011 16:12 EDT
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In a unique compromise arrangement, the European Union believes it may have found a way to address the concerns of fishermen and environmental activists, even as it works to address the problem of overfishing that’s devastated marine life in coastal areas.

They’re going to pay fishermen to catch plastic instead, according to a report by The Guardian‘s Fiona Harvey. Hauled ashore, the plastic would then be sent off for recycling — an outcome that’s sure to please environmentalists and fishermen alike.

It started with a well-meaning policy to limit how much fish stock an individual run can haul ashore. But as it turns out, it only led to fishermen figuring out which fish would be the most valuable, then dumping the others — nearly half of which were usually dead.

It created an enormous amount of waste and accelerated the decimation of dwindling fish populations, spawning a whole new public campaign to get rid of the practice.

The new rules being set forth by the E.U.’s fisheries chief would implement a blanket ban on dumping, as well as banning imports of fish and fish products from countries that do not have sustainability standards.

It additionally calls for a trial program in the Mediterranean Sea that would pay fishermen to catch plastic debris that are floating in the waters, posing a threat to marine life. Lawmakers said they hoped it would help alleviate some of the financial burden being placed on fishermen, and help restore the populations of much-needed marine life.

If it is successful, the program could be implemented elsewhere on a larger scale.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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