Tuesday 18 June 2013

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund- a step backwards?

Unfortunately it feels like one step forward and two large steps back when it comes to reforming the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).  Back in February, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reverse thirty years of failed EU fisheries management in favour of an ambitious reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.  We were ecstatic.  This was a huge step forwards - at last we were putting an end to over-fishing.

However, recently MEPs on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee have been discussing the future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).  The EMFF provides funding to the fishing industry and coastal communities to help them adapt to changing conditions in the sector and become economically resilient and ecologically sustainable.  A truly sustainable CFP needs an EMFF that supports the end of overfishing and the rebuilding of fish stocks - one without harmful subsidies.  We are concerned, however, that the Fisheries Committee are considering the reintroduction of public subsidy through the EMFF to build new fishing vessels and engines.  This type of subsidy has been shown to contribute to overfishing and was phased out by the 2002 CFP reform.  You can read more about this here.

It is common sense that public subsidy should help move to a sustainable fishing sector.  Instead of subsidising the capacity to increase overfishing, investment should be increased to enhance control, improve enforcement , improve data collection, and to develop less damaging fishing gear to reduce discards and the environmental impact of fishing activity.

Let’s hope MEPs on the Fisheries Committee see sense before they vote on 10 July. You can help by writing to your MEP (find them here).

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