Negative response to EMFF outcomes

An agreement on the Commission's proposal for a new EMFF has been agreed An agreement on the Commission's proposal for a new EMFF has been agreed

Environmental organisations have responded to EMFF outcomes at the EU Agriculture & Fisheries Council.

An agreement on a partial general approach on the Commission's proposal for a new European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) has been agreed by fisheries ministers, replacing the existing European fisheries fund (EFF). This agreement allows subsidies for vessel modernisation (15% of the funds Member States can access through the EMFF to be used for fleet restructuring until 2017), new engines and to cover losses incurred by fishermen as a result of temporary fishery closures.

The deal also foresees publicly funded vessel scrapping schemes, which allow vessel owners to destroy their vessels in return for cash. These schemes will only work if they are targeted towards the decommissioning of the most oversized and destructive elements of the fleet, said Greenpeace.

Greenpeace believes that ministers have sold out to the short-term economic interests of the industrial fishing industry, instead of putting Europe’s fisheries onto a path of recovery. It says that many parts of the EU fishing fleet are already able to catch two to three times more than is sustainable, but ministers meeting in Luxembourg have signalled that they want to continue funnelling subsidies into the modernisation of vessels and their engines.

Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: “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. Wasting taxpayers’ money on what causes the problem in the first place is ridiculous: it is like paying someone to rob you.”

WWF believes that overall fisheries ministers failed by accepting a compromise package which does not support the objectives of an ambitious reform, ensuring that EU public funding contributes to overcapacity and overfishing. Only five Member States (Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and the Netherlands) opposed aid for modernisation and supported more aid for data collection and control. A majority of other Member States were in favour of modernisation as well as keeping EU financial support for the temporary cessation of fishing activities.

Oceana has said it is appalled by the outcome and by the “reckless attitude” of the Member States, who, by agreeing to this text, have put at risk both the future of the fisheries industry and the coastal communities that depend on it.

“The dire economic state of European fisheries has turned the majority of fisheries ministers from decision makers into fundraisers, aiming at getting their hands on as many subsidy schemes as possible,” commented Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana Europe. “Instead of realising that the direct fleet subsidies of the current financial mechanism have been a failure, they cling to old habits, the very same that have led to the economic, social and environmental crisis of fisheries.”

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