Palma de Majorca.—Both the Federation of Balearic Fishermen and Oceana yesterday described the practice of dragnet trawling as “destructive”.
Representatives for the Federation and the conservationists said not only was dragnet trawling responsible for ripping up the seabed and killing off delicate marine ecosystems, it was also imposing a monopoly on the fish market, pushing out the regional fishermen who use traditional, non-destructive methods of fishing.

The dragnet trawlers, say the Federation, bring in three quarters of the fresh catch into the fish markets around the Balearics. But trawlers of this kind are just one in every 8 fishing vessels operating from the Islands, seriously unbalancing the share of the catch. Xavier Pastor, leader of the Majorcan branch of Oceana, claimed that every year, the dragnet trawlers lay waste to a seabed area the size of the Balearic Islands.

The Federation meanwhile says that whether its members are fishing close in to the coast of the Balearics or out on the continental shelf, the traditional fishing arts have been designed not to whittle down fishing stocks unsustainably and not to destroy the marine environment from which the catches are made. “We always have the future of the fishing industry in mind when we put to sea,” said Toni Garau, Secretary of the Fishermen's Federation. “If future generations are to make a living from the sea, then we have to guarantee there will be stocks.” However, the Balearic government has rejected the conservationist claims of Oceana. Marine environment director Margaret Mercadal said that Oceana's condemnation of dragnet trawling “does not reflectthe reality of the situation.”

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