In the European Parliament’s view, fishing vessels which might violate the ban on discarding undersized fish should be equipped with cameras, so that they do not go wrong.
Dutch fishermen are not happy with the plan, which has yet to be approved by the EU countries. They feel like criminals put away and compromised in their privacy. The fishermen hope that outgoing fisheries minister Carola Schouten and her colleagues will block the camera surveillance of the cutter.
Cameras will be required for larger fishing vessels that are “at serious risk” not to comply with the rules, if it is up to the EU Parliament. These are fishermen, for example, who have already violated the so-called landing obligation on several occasions. This rule requires that too small, unsaleable fish must also be brought ashore. That costs space for fish from which the fisherman can earn.
Fishermen who voluntarily hang cameras on board should be rewarded for this. Parliament is thinking of the right to catch more fish or the waiver of entries in the criminal record.
CDA, ChristenUnie and SGP are disappointed by the threatening measure. “This is a slap in the face for Dutch fishermen,” says MEP Annie Schreijer (CDA). The Christian Union speaks of “a completely wrong signal” and “mistrust” and the SGP of a “witch hunt” and “Big Brother on board”.
CU MEP Peter van Dalen points out that Parliament’s fisheries committee had previously voted against camera surveillance by a large majority. The European Commission intervened. The entire parliament finally voted by eight votes in favour of camera surveillance.
The Dutch fishermen’s Union is shocked. According to the industry association, the landing obligation was “impracticable from the first moment” and camera surveillance would not improve it. The Union speaks of an “unreasonable burden increase” for fishermen who would already be sitting in the corner where the blows fall.
CDA Member Schreijer and her SGP colleague Bert-Jan Ruissen are now placing their hopes on Schouten. “The Netherlands will have to work hard to rectify this”, says Schreijer. But the fishermen’s Union has already lost its courage. “The chances of this perilous idea being pushed out of the table are now nil.”