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EU Makes Bold Commitment to Sustainable Fishing

EU Makes Bold Commitment to Sustainable Fishing

The European Union's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comes up for renewal every decade, but for the first time, Parliament clearly dedicated itself to ensuring sustainable practices.

Passing by a whopping 473-to-52 vote count, Parliament approved reform of the CFP, including objectives to rebuild fish stocks, reduce fishing's impact on the ecosystem and deny financial help to those with records of illegal fishing. The CFP's approval makes way for a € 6.5 billion European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that would last through 2020. Fisheries ministers will now receive a final vote, but most believe that will be a formality.

EMFF funds will help fishermen implement the new Common Fisheries Policy requirements for more sustainable fishing. Photo credit: Parliament/Belgaimage/AFP/JS.EVRARD

"This vote sets up a sustainable fishing model for the next ten years," Parliament rapporteur Alain Cadec said in a statement. "For me, talk about sustainable fisheries is not just talk and praiseworthy sentiment. Sustainable fishing means, above all, practical measures to eliminate overfishing and control fleet capacity while allowing fishermen to live from their work."

Oceana Europe was pleased with the new commitment, as well as the rejection of funding new boats.

“The European Parliament proved itself to be a force for environmental good during negotiations for the CFP," Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe, said in a statement. "However, in the case of the EMFF we saw more extreme differences of opinion: Both the most environmentally destructive proposal—subsidies to build new boats and the most beneficial proposal—to double funding for data collection and control measures—came from the Parliament. Fortunately, the proposal to fund new boats was rejected by the Plenary."

Oceana says that "environmentally harmful subsidies," like funding for new engines were reintroduced, but they will be subject to clear budget limits. However, individual states can dictate such spending.

“Member States will, in fact, make the final decision on EMFF investments, and could therefore decide to exclude harmful subsidies from the funding possibilities they will provide to their fishing sectors," Oceana policy officer Vanya Vulperhorst said. "If they are truly committed to the new CFP and its principles, excluding these subsidies should be a no-brainer."

A European Commission statement also states the fund will aid data collection for fisheries to provide "robust evidence" and comply with sustainable programs. 

"Our reformed fisheries policy is putting European fisheries on a sustainable footing once and for all," European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said. "To get there will mean radical changes for our fishermen and the whole sector, which needs our financial support.

"We will co-fund concrete projects in the member states to help fishermen and coastal communities develop a sustainable seafood industry—from the net to the plate."

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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