Today BirdLife partner and Seas At Risk member, Natuurpunt, filed a complaint with the European Commission objecting to the ineffective, even deceptive, marine management measures Belgium proposes for its marine Natura 2000 sites. The legal complaint will hopefully be reinforced by a motion to be voted in the European Parliament on Monday rejecting the government’s inadequate proposals as well.

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The Birds and Habitats Directives clearly impose an obligation on Belgium to pay more than lip service to protect these marine species and habitats. The lack of protection from highly damaging activities such as fishing with a bottom trawl or gillnets can be detrimental to Belgian’s marine ecosystem. Among the concerned species and habitats are the 4,000 Common Scoter who winter in these waters, and the reef beds hosting the almost extinct European flat oysters– all of whom are in deep peril due to Belgium’s contempt for their obligation to implement the Directives.

Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer: “It is intolerable that in the country at the heart of the European Union such blatant disregard for the planet’s most important laws protecting nature and biodiversity can be on the table. We urge the Commission and Parliament to respond to this sham with an unequivocal rejection of this ‘management charade.”

Alice Belin, Seas At Risk, Marine Policy Office: “A genuine enforcement of the Birds & Habitats Directives is critical to rebuild the health of our seas. The hollow measures proposed by Belgium illustrate the cynicism of some European countries who are willing to protect nature but only if it does not interfere with economic activities. Having the European Parliament reject these measures will send a strong signal to all European countries that they need to take real action on nature conservation.

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