870 million euros and 2,900 jobs could be at risk - between now and 2030. The EU Commission has submitted a proposal to the European Parliament to completely eliminate trawling in EU waters, even though it accounts for 23 percent of overall.
And - as AGRICOLAE learns - chaos broke out with two opposing sides: on one side the European executive, on the other the Parliament.
The proposal was put forward on the grounds because - according to what the EU Fisheries Commission claims based on scientific studies refuted by many other scientific studies - the health of the seabed would be indispensable for marine ecosystems to be able to guarantee biodiversity.
And the EU Executive is acting on this to phase out, step by step, bottom trawling and all bottom mobile catching tools such as dredges in marine protected areas and all Natura2000 areas under the Habitats Directive.
Specifically, these are the areas that the Plan itself calls for further expansion- AGRICOLAE learns - also stating that the seabed protection will have to be extended beyond the perimeter of those areas.
But the MEPs were not having it and 'accused' the Commission of going ahead and bypassing the fishing organizations of the countries belonging to the Union.
Big words seem to have flown in the debate on March 1, foreshadowing a clash between the Executive and Parliament that is destined to last a long time.
"Taking care of fish and the environment in which they live means taking care of fishermen," reiterated DG MARE Director General Charlina Vitcheva.
"Good luck," wished her PECH Committee Chair Pierre Karleskind, France. "Fortunately, this is not a legally binding document," stressed center-right MEP Peter Van Dalen, Netherlands reiterating how politicians will probably "definitely think twice before using it." Raising the possibility that countries may not participate in possible sanctions.
The response comes from Veronica Manfredi, Commission's Environment Directorate General (DG ENV) and former chair of CIPR, Commission Internationale pour la Protection du Rhin: "We will see each other in Luxembourg. If the countries do not comply we will have to start a series of rapid infringement procedures."
But the game pitting the EU Commission and the EU Parliament against each other seems to have just begun. Round two is expected in the coming weeks.
An initial passage in the EU Council is scheduled for March 20, and there will then be a second and final passage in the EU Council of Ministers at the end of July.
Below AGRICOLAE publishes the Action Plan presented by the EU Fisheries Commission: