What’s The Deal With EU Fisheries Subsidies?

Written by on July 16, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law
Fishing fleet docked in Howth, Ireland.

Fishing fleet docked in Howth, Ireland. Photo credit: infomatique via photopin cc.

The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament voted last week on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the decision has provided some controversy. The committee voted in favor of resuming subsidies for the fishing industry.

The aim of the EMFF is to increase sustainability of the fishing industry. Those in favor of the vote say that the EMFF is in line with the “ambitious reform” of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and will help make EU fisheries more sustainable. Others, however, say that the vote in favor of subsidies will facilitate overfishing.

The EMFF will provide funds the fisheries industry for the next seven years. They money will:

  • Support subsidies for start-up aid for young fishermen (< 35 years old) to enter the fisheries sector
  • Fund the building of new boats and engines
  • Support the renovation of of small-scale and coastal fishing vessels that are more than 35 years old
  • Compensate vessels that remain in ports when fish stocks are under pressure

International ocean conservation organization Oceana is particularly concerned with the negative impact that subsidies can have on the oceans, saying that subsidies will help maintain oversized fleets and worsen the vicious cycle of overfishing. They recently released the results of their six-month study on European Union subsidies to the fishing sector since 2000. Here’s what they found:

  • Fisheries subsidies from the EU and its member states have totaled € 12,9 billion.
  • Member states granted € 4,9 billion (US$6.3 billion) in the form of “state aid” for the fishing sector.
  • Only one percent of that money can be identified as beneficial to the marine environment.
  • About 65 percent can be categorized as “environmentally harmful.”
  • Together, Ireland, Spain, Italy and France received almost 75% of the state aid.

Members of the European Parliament will vote on the EMFF this fall in the plenary vote. EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki says “I am now looking forward to the position of the plenary. In the trialogues following the plenary, the Commission will stand for an EMFF which supports the ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy…”

Fish for the Future, “a cross-party group of MEPs who want to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks,” recently created an infographic that sums up the issue of EU fisheries subsidies. Take a look.

To learn more, check out some of these links:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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