EMFF to fuel overfishing

10 Jul 2013
It is feared that the EMFF will fuel overfishing. Credit: William Murphy/CC-BY-SA-2.0

It is feared that the EMFF will fuel overfishing. Credit: William Murphy/CC-BY-SA-2.0

Votes have been cast on how taxpayer money from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be spent, and the overwhelming response from environmental groups is that this fund will now facilitate overfishing.

The aim of the EMFF is to increase the sustainability of the fisheries industry, but MEPs have narrowly voted in favour of reintroducing subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels and fleet modernisation, maintaining the ‘oversized European fleet’ and contributing to overfishing. While many were hoping that MEPs would come up with a plan that could promote sustainable fisheries over the long-term, the result of the vote has been described as a risk to stock recovery.

World Fishing & Aquaculture has received several statements from organisations including Oceana, WWF, Greenpeace, OCEAN2012, The Pew Charitable Trusts and Birdlife Europe, who all agree that this vote goes against the main goals of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“Using €1.6 billion to build up to 20,000 new fishing vessels will fuel overfishing and undermine a new Common Fisheries Policy. Furthermore, this decision clearly contradicts the EU’s international commitments to end the harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing.” said Markus Knigge, advisor to OCEAN2012 and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said that this decision will not benefit the public, the economic prospects of the fishing sector, or the recovery of the seas. “When fishing grounds are depleted, fishermen use subsidies to cover their losses. But using taxpayers’ money for bigger nets or more powerful vessels will continue to fuel overfishing and leave fishermen trapped in a vicious circle”, she said.

The organisations are now hoping that when it is put to the full European Parliament in the autumn, MEPs will decide to reallocate funds to promote fish stock recovery and habitat restoration.

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