Change to EU Fisheries Policy: “it is like paying someone to rob you…”

Written by on October 25, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law
Fishing tralwer in north-west Scotland.

Fishing tralwer in north-west Scotland. Photo credit: Iolaire.

A conflict between the UK Environment Ministry and the EU Fisheries Commissioner has erupted over a new deal that would reshape fishing policies in the EU.

The Common Fisheries Policy has long been blamed for overfishing in the EU; current policies have increased the capacity of fleets, allowing over-exploitation.

The new plan will help fleets switch to more sustainable fishing methods and largely eliminate bycatch (unwanted species) and discards (target fish that end up tossed back into the sea, dead, in order to maintain quotas).

Maria Damanaki, EU Fisheries Commissioner, has said that the deal isn’t as good as the Commission was hoping for, and environmentalists agree.

Greenpeace has said that the ministers “sold out to the economic interests of the industrial fishing sector.” ¬†Because the new deal still involves providing subsidies for maintaining vessels and their engines, it will end up increasing the capacity.

“There is already not enough fish for all the boats out there, so it makes no sense at all for governments to continue throwing subsidies at the EU’s oversized fleet,” explained Saskia Richartz, EU fisheries policy director for Greenpeace.

“Wasting taxpayers’ money on what causes the problem in the first place is ridiculous – it is like paying someone to rob you.”

However, the UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is much more optimistic. ¬†“We are moving ever closer to the UK goal of being able to create healthy fish stocks, a prosperous fishing industry and a healthy marine environment,” he said.

The next step is for the proposal to be reviewed by the European Parliament, so it may be amended more before it becomes a law.

Crab boat from the North Frisian Islands working in the North Sea.

Crab boat from the North Frisian Islands working in the North Sea. Photo credit: Jom.

To learn more:

Learn more about sustainable seafood:

Copyright © 2012 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 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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