European fishing subsidies vote: our verdict

Photo credit:   jordi.martorell

October 24, 2013 // By: Griffin Carpenter

Yesterday the European Parliament voted to decide on the building blocks of an important new subsidy package for EU fisheries. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is designed to fund projects that support coastal communities, create jobs and lead to more sustainable fishing. It has huge potential to benefit both our seas and our economy – but have MEPs got the basics right?

In advance of the Parliament vote we produced two policy briefings specifying what a successful EMFF would look like. We said it should dramatically increase funding for data collection and control and enforcement but should not provide funds for new vessel construction or measures that increase fishing capacity. By fishing capacity we mean the combined ability of Europe’s fishing boats to catch fish – which is dependent on the number of boats on the water, the size and power, and how fast and technically efficient they are.

Thanks to this research and the concerted efforts of citizens, NGOs and civil society initiatives campaigning for sustainable fisheries (OCEAN2012, OCEANA, Paint a Fish, Birdlife, FISH Secretariat, WWF, Greenpeace and many others) there have been some big wins on both counts. MEPs voted to at least double the funding for data collection, to increase the funding for control and enforcement and to reject the funding of new vessel construction.

But it was not all good news. They also voted to include funding for engine replacement and business start-ups for young fishers – both measures that will increase the number of fishing boats on the water and the amount of fish being caught. This is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen if we want to achieve the ambitious aim of the Common Fisheries Policy passed in February: to restore fish stocks to their full economic potential.

Now that the European Parliament has voted, negotiations to finalise the EMFF will enter a ‘trilogue’ between the Parliament, Council and Commission to agree on a funding policy to be put in place by spring 2014. In the meantime we will continue our research and advocacy work on sustainable fisheries. Watch this space.

Issues

Environment, Fisheries, Jobs & Industrial Strategy

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