On September 7th and 8th, the EU LIFE program was launched in Amsterdam to combat the bycatch of protected species in the fishing industry. Unintended bycatch in fishing is one of the greatest threats to endangered and protected marine mammals and sea creatures. Despite all the legal and technical measures, research, and initiatives from various parties, reducing this problem structurally has been elusive.
One significant reason is that fishermen have not been sufficiently involved in efforts to reduce unwanted bycatch, even though their role is crucial. Additionally, each EU member state interprets European directives, such as those related to monitoring and regulations, differently. This lack of harmonization hinders a coordinated approach across the three seas surrounding the European Union. Moreover, enforcement at sea is challenging and not comprehensive.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality (LNV) has taken the lead in the European LIFE project, “Coordinated Development and Implementation of Best Practice in Bycatch Reduction in the North Atlantic Region” (CIBBRiNA), to collaborate with fishing organizations, ministries, scientific institutions, and NGOs to reduce incidental bycatch in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Mediterranean Sea.
The involved parties will focus on endangered and protected marine species, including sharks, rays, seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals such as dolphins and seals. The project aims to both implement measures and enhance monitoring.
There are 45 organizations from 13 countries participating in the project, with a total budget of 12.4 million euros, including 8.3 million euros in subsidies from the European Commission. The Ministry of LNV is coordinating the project, which has a duration of six years.
As part of the Green Deal, the European Union has developed a Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, including an action plan for fisheries conservation and the protection of marine ecosystems. The LIFE CIBBRiNA program makes a significant contribution to this action plan, with bycatch of protected species being one of the key priorities for urgent action by the EU.