In an effort to better protect dolphins, sharks, swordfish and bluefin tuna, the European Union has proposed a ban on the use of all driftnets in European waters. Driftnets float miles wide across an ocean's surface and frequently result in the inadvertent bycatch of vitally important marine species, which can cause overfishing and general population decline. According to the Associated Press, this is not the EU's first attempt to get rid of the "walls of death" that cause so many marine wildlife deaths:
These type of nets were previously used in the hunt for endangered bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean until the EU banned such fishing in 2002. Even if laws already restricted its use, driftnet fishing often continued illegally and a total ban on driftnets would make catching cheats easier. The EU courts had to take action against Italy and France half a decade ago to stop such practices.
The proposal must be put to a vote by the EU's 28 member states before it secures final approval. "Fishing with driftnets destroys marine habitats, endangers marine wildlife and threatens sustainable fisheries," EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said in a statement. "We need to close any possible loopholes and simplify control and enforcement ... The ban sends out a clear message that we no longer tolerate any irresponsible practices."