The European Commission has decided to proceed with a second infringement procedure against Italy for illegal fishing with driftnets.

The European Commission has decided to proceed with a second infringement procedure against Italy for illegal fishing with driftnets.

The European Commission has called on Italy to take measures and comply with an October 2009 Court of Justice ruling on Italy's continued illegal use of driftnets.

The Court found that Italy had failed to adequately control and enforce the EU ban on the use of driftnets. Italy's long-standing infringement of the driftnet ban shockingly dates back from 1992, the year when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has banned the use of driftnets.

Driftnets are vertical nets held in place on the water surface by floats. They are attached to a buoy or a vessel and left to “drift” for large periods of time, catching any fish or other animals that swim into it. This is a highly damaging fishing gear, infamous for its high rate of bycatch, affecting in particular vulnerable and protected species, such as sharks and rays, marine mammals, seabirds and turtles. These nets are also often discarded and continue ghost fishing for long periods of time.

The Commission has said that if no satisfactory actions are taken within two months from the receipt of the Commission's letter, the Commission may refer this case to the Court of Justice for the second time, and in this instance it would ask the Court to impose significant financial penalties on Italy in accordance with the Treaty rules.

Photograph by Oceana

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