Greens protest EU boats for tsunami-hit

Brussels, Feb 25 | Updated: Feb 26 2005, 05:30am hrs
Indian fishermen could well be given some of the 1,100 fishing boats which the European Union has decommissioned, because of the EUs growing restrictions on fishing in Atlantic waters, in order to save fish stocks.

But the EUs decision to send the boats to the seven countries hardest hit by the tsunami - India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Somalia - has aroused a lot of opposition among members of the European Parliament and European NGOs.

Europe, according to meps belonging to the green (environmentalist) groups, is about to send the wrong kind of aid to fishing communities devastated by the tsunami on December 26. They maintain that instead of sending ill-suited old boats, the 25-nation EU should send aid to allow new vessels to be built locally.

Local fishermen do not want our old boats, Monica Frassoni, co-president of the greens in the EP, said during Thursdays debate in the EP on an EU regulation which allows the vessels to be transferred to the Asian fishermen.

The EP amended the regulation adopted by EU member-governments and adopted it by 429 votes to 105, with 26 abstentions. Only vessels destined to be scrapped or reused for other purposes than fishing will be sent, said the EP proposal. Their owners will be compensated.