I Have to Disagree with the Italian Fishermen

The New York Times reported yesterday that “hundreds of small Italian fishing boats from Venice to Porto Palo in Sicily drew up their nets on Tuesday to protest a European Union Council regulation regarding sustainable fishing in the Mediterranean that became fully effective on June 1.”

Although the EUC regulations impact Greece, France, Spain, and Malta as well, the Italians are protesting the loudest because of the effect this change will have on their dinner table: Regulations call for the use of larger mesh sizes in nets and ban the use of trawl nets close to the coast, which means fewer fish to offer in the market.

Oliver Drewes, a spokesman for Maria Damanaki, commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, noted that the regulation was drafted as a “call for a long-term sustainable approach so that fisherman can fish in the future, and so that they can preserve their local cultures and traditions.”

Critics of the plan, like Ettore Iani, president of Legapesca, a national fish trade association, claim they can understand if fishing quotas or number of fishing days were reduced, “but the truth is they’re shutting us down.”

Granted, I’m not a fisherman, and–even though I’ve caught my share of flounder by trawling the Atlantic and bluegills by casting on inland Michigan lakes–I certainly haven’t experienced the scope of commercial fishing. But, just like other resources in this world, if we don’t put restrictions on our harvest, they’ll be depleted.

So maybe there are fewer options for calamari on the menus in Italy? Here’s an idea: Have more pasta e fagioli.


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