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Why does the ban not apply to salmon fisheries?

The ban does not apply to salmon fisheries because different problems require different solutions. In its initial proposal, the Commission had proposed to extend the drift net ban to salmon. However, data showing that this was not necessary became available and the ban was confined to tuna fisheries.
In the Baltic and North Atlantic salmon fisheries by-catches are not a problem. In the Baltic, for example, the concern is not about by-catch but about the state of wild salmon stocks and the low profitability of the fishery. The question of the declining stocks of wild salmon, due to a number of factors, is being addressed by the International Baltic Fisheries Commission which regulates salmon fishing as part of its fisheries management tasks in this region. The harbour porpoises and seals which frequent the Baltic prefer coastal waters to those off-shore where drift nets are used. In addition, as the fisheries in the Baltic and the British Isles are economically unattractive the threat of expansion, which was a cause for concern in the tuna fisheries, does not exist.

What is the future of the EU tuna fisheries affected by the ban?

It is the technique which causes the problem, not the fisheries. Tuna fisheries may and, indeed, must be continued.
These fisheries are very important to some Member States' fleets, both in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean and the Union will do its utmost to ensure that they survive and thrive. Measures are already being taken to facilitate the transition to safer, more selective and economically attractive tuna fishing techniques.
Italy had already, with EU backing, put in place a programme - the Spadare Programme - which offers financial incentives to vessel owners prepared to abandon drift nets and convert to more selective techniques, retrain or leave the fishing sector. This programme will be in place until the end of 1999 and will frame EU assistance to Italian enterprises and crews affected by the ban.

What is the European Union going to do to help?

The Council and the Commission, aware of the negative economic and social consequences which this ban will have on some fleets in the short term, wish to ensure that measures are in place to minimise these consequences. These measures could include refurbishing vessels in order to allow for the use of safer techniques in targeting the same fisheries, transferring to other fisheries - to the exclusion of overexploited fisheries, compensation for vessel owners and fishermen ending their fishing activities and training for fishermen wishing to turn to alternative activities.
The funds for such measures will come from the existing financial allocation to each of the Member States within the framework of the Structural Funds. The Commission is also committing some funding to co-financing studies and pilot projects seeking to find techniques that are safer, more ecologically friendly and profitable in tuna fisheries.

What is going to happen between now and the end of 2001 when drift nets will be abandoned?

Driftnets will gradually but rapidly be phased out. Fleets affected by the ban need time to adjust. However, fishing pressure has to be reduced as quickly as possible. Thus, already in 1998, the number of vessels taking part in tuna fisheries with drift nets will need to be forty per cent lower than the numbers involved over the previous three years. Fishing effort will continue to be gradually reduced over the remaining years. Member States concerned will present national programmes detailing the way they plan to operate their phasing out to the Commission and, before the end of the year, EU ministers will agree on accompanying measures. By 1st January 2002 drift nets will no longer figure in EU tuna fisheries.