EU waters are already overfished. Why would we spend €1.6bn on new boats?

Photo credit: © Pew and Corey Arnold

July 4, 2013 // By: Griffin Carpenter

Recent progress on sustainable fishing is now in danger as MEPs vote next week on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – the money used to implement the new Common Fisheries Policy.

One key amendment to the EMFF would allow for €0.24 billion annually - a total of €1.6 billion over seven years - to be spent on new vessel construction for certain fleets. Overcapacity is the prime driver of overfishing in the EU. If approved, these funds will set the industry back many years.

Our new briefing today highlights the massive scale of this potential €0.24 billion a year investment. Of the total EMFF pot this amendment represents one quarter of all available funds. If put towards measures to help restore fish stocks, the same subsidy amount could increase amount of funds for control and enforcement measures by 4.6 times, for data collection by 3.5 times, or by 2 times jointly.

The total potential cost is equivalent to the wages of 17% of EU fishers. Looking outside of fisheries for additional perspective, the total potential cost over seven years could buy over 525 million school lunches for pupils across Europe. It is clear that funds of this magnitude could have a tremendous amount of societal good if put to alternative uses.

EU fishing fleets are already suffering from the immediate financial effects of overfishing, but subsidies for new vessel construction would contribute to overcapacity and serve only to exacerbate the problem.

It is more fish, not vessel subsidies, which will support EU fisheries. Only by tackling overfishing can we end this vicious cycle.

Next week MEPs must vote against the amendment to fund new vessel construction and instead support funding plans that aid a steady transition towards restoring our fish stocks and a sustainable EU fishing industry. You can help us spread the word by sharing this blog, our briefing, or an infographic in one of five different European languages:

MEPs have made great progress towards fish stock restoration – earlier this year ministers made a commitment to end overfishing. They mustn’t let this new amendment to EU subsidies work against that progress. 

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