Greenpeace Poses Threat to Cod?

Updated 17:45

Swedish Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Eskil Erlandsson, is concerned over a planned action by environmental organisation Greenpeace.

He wrote in Saturday’s edition of daily Dagens Nyheter that the organisation intends to dump boulders in the sea off the coast of the Swedish county of Halland, to obstruct fishing by help of bottom trawling nets. This action, according to the minister, poses a serious threat to the agreements Sweden has with Denmark regarding the fishing of cod.

According to the Minister the action may threaten the Swedish-Danish agreement on a total ban on the fishing in the areas of Kattegat where the cod spawns.

“Fishing policy is only successful if all countries involved co-operate. The planned action by Greenpeace will only undermine the trust in joint efforts that we have built up together with our neighbouring nations – both in regards to the cod and all other fishing policy,” Erlandsson wrote.  

But discerning voices are now saying that the Minister for Agriculture is bluffing and that he is trying to pin the blame on Greenpeace for a ban that may well be on the way out anyway.

“We are simply doing something that we believe Sweden should have done years ago. We know that fishermen are trawling the sea bed in the nature protected areas. But if we place these boulders in their way, they will risk damaging their equipment,“ Patrik Eriksson of Greenpeace said to Swedish news agency TT.

Viking Bengtsson, chairman of the Halland county branch of the Swedish National Association of Fishermen, told TT that Erlandsson’s claim is phoney. According to him, the discussion has arisen due to the fact that Danish fishermen want fishing for flatfish in the area to be allowed, with restrictions only while the cod is spawning.

“Erlandsson realizes that the total ban on fishing is going to be abolished anyway, and he is trying to pin the blame on Greenpeace,” Bengtsson said to TT.

Recently the Swedish Environmental protection Agency allowed the dumping of 80 000 cubic metres of dredging spoils from the harbour of Falkenberg in the restricted fishing areas. The dredging spoils are suspected to contain the toxin Tributyltin (TBT) which can be found among other places in the bottom paint of ships and boats.  

To allow the dumping of this is a larger threat to the ban on fishing than the boulders that Greenpeace want to place in the area, Viking Bengtsson said to TT.

According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, the move by Erlandsson does come after pressure from his Danish counterpart Eva Kjer Hansen. In a letter to her Swedish colleague Kjer Hansen says that the dumping of boulders in the area is damaging both to fishing trade and fishing policies.

“It is against Danish legislation to hinder legal fishing. As the action will be carried out in Swedish waters, the measures must be taken there, “she said according to DN.

If Sweden does not put a stop to Greenpeace’s plans the Danish government sees no other solution than to reconsider the agreement.

“I am not saying that we will cancel the ban on fishing in the area. But we will face a different situation. We shall have to discuss with the Swedish government how to handle this agreement,” Jacob Munkhøj Nielsen from the Danish Ministry of Fisheries told DN.  

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