For the environmental coalition, subsidised overfishing means environmental failure. (Photo: OCEAN2012)
OCEAN2012 asks for the elimination of fishing subsidies
Monday, May 14, 2012, 02:40 (GMT + 9)
Environmental coalition OCEAN2012 has sharply criticised what it refers to as “excessive” European Union (EU) fishing subsidies ahead of an EU Fisheries Council Meeting coming up in Brussels this week. Ministers will discuss how future subsidies should be used and how to arrive at sustainable fishing limits.
"Subsidised overfishing has meant subsidised environmental and economic failure. Healthy fish stocks could mean more fishing and more jobs,” said Ian Campbell, UK Coordinator for OCEAN2012. “We need to redirect our public taxes away from fuelling overfishing and towards restoring the EU's fisheries to their optimal levels, which in turn will increase their profitability.”
Subsidies cut the cost of fishing while increasing the capacity of fleets to catch fish.
He noted that 63 per cent of assessed stocks in EU Atlantic waters are overfished, 82 per cent of stocks are overfished in the Mediterranean and four out of the six stocks in the Baltic are as well – all due to poor decision-making based on short-term considerations.
This overfishing is costing the world economy at least EUR 3.2 billion a year, Campbell stated, yet in the last five years roughly EUR 13 billion of taxpayers’ money has gone to subsidise the EU fishing sector to increase the capacity of fleets, pay for modernisation, fuel, fees and scrapping.
"Governments at the table in Brussels must take this opportunity to rise to the challenge and tackle Europe's overfishing crisis head on, instead of arranging yet more industry handouts at the taxpayers’ expense," he added.
The coalition revealed some ways in which subsidies are leading to overfishing:
- Between 2000-8, public subsidies of EUR 33.5 million were used to modernise the fleet targeting endangered bluefin tuna;
- Annually about EUR 850 million in EU subsidies goes to support structural measures, including vessel modernisation, but less than EUR 50 million to support control and enforcement aid and less than EUR 50 million for scientific data collection;
- Several operators convicted of illegal fishing activities continue to benefit from these subsidies.
OCEAN2012 asserts that removing subsidies could increase profits for fishers, increase fish populations and improve marine ecosystems.
By Natalia Real