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Deal on Fisheries Subsidies may Undermine Attempts to End Overfishing

30 January 2014

EU - Negotiating teams from the European Parliament, Agriculture and Fisheries Council and European Commission reached a political deal on how to allocate €6.7 billion of subsidies to the EU fisheries industry. However, WWF says that it may undermine attempts to end over-fishing.

MEPs and the Greek presidency negotiating this deal managed to agree on some key measures that will introduce greater accountability in fishing and may help a slow recovery of fish stocks.

Despite some welcome measures, WWF is however deeply disappointed with the decision taken on subsidies for engine modernisation for fishing vessels, including trawlers, which could hamper efforts to reduce fishing capacity and end overfishing. These measures include:

  • Boats under 12 metres will receive aid to replace engines of similar power;
  • Those between 12-18 metres will receive supports only if new engines are 20% less powerful than the original;
  • Vessels above 18 metres will receive finance for new engines with a reduction in power of 30 per cent.

Despite this setback there is no reintroduction of subsidies for the construction of new vessels. Instead support is given for a package of jobs for young fishermen and training for sustainable fishing practices that are essential for fishing communities.

In addition it was decided to increase investment in data collection, control and regulation enforcement will give fisheries authorities a chance at fighting illegal fishing, which accounts for nearly 40 per cent of landings.

Tony Long, Director, WWF European Policy Office, stated: “Currently the situation is dire. Over two-thirds of assessed fish stocks are being overexploited and facing collapse. Despite reckless plans to subsidise engine modernisation many of the decisions taken will give the decimated fish stocks a chance of recovery. We hope that this will eventually help secure a long-term future for coastal communities that depend on fish for their livelihoods; and for consumers who rely on fish as a healthy source of nutrition.”

“Credit has to be given to all those in the European Parliament as well as civil society and the public, who have been fighting for a U-turn in European Fisheries Policy."

Further Reading

Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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