Parliamentary report recommends reform of fisheries subsidies

A new study highlights the role of subsidies in the failure to reach sustainable fisheries.

The EU has failed to meet the sustainability objectives laid out in the CFP. Too many boats continue to chase too few fish, and subsidies have contributed to this. These findings are presented in a new study published by the Directorate-General for Internal Policies, on the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

The report provides an overview of the environmental relevance of EU subsidies within areas such as agriculture, transport and fisheries.

With regards to fisheries, the report notes that many harmful subsidies have already been removed, such as subsidies for the construction of new vessels. Still, it remains a challenge to align management and control systems in such a way that fisheries subsidies do not cause harm.

Jo Leinen

Jo Leinen (S&D), Chair of the Environment Committee, said the study results did not come as a surprise. “It has often been criticized that the quotas within the CFP are not in balance with a sustainable fishing level. Just last year the environment committee and subsequently the Parliament debated the blue fin tuna fishing in the EU and criticized the overfishing of this particular species. Providing funding to large fishing vessels certainly does not contribute to stop this development.”

The report recommends that funds should be shifted towards potentially good subsidies, such as scientific research for stock assessments and retraining fishermen for alternative employment opportunities.

Jo Leinen said he hopes that the study will help the Parliament but also politicians on the national level in the decision making process when it comes to re-structuring the funding, streamlining subsidies and setting clear priorities for what the EU wants to achieve with the funds provided.

What message would you like to send to the PECH committee about subsidies?
Jo Leinen: “The sustainability requirements in the CFP must be better respected. Implementation at the national level is lacking behind. The EU’s Fisheries Fund is a major instrument for the EU fisheries sector. Here, the Fisheries committee in cooperation with the Budgets committee have opportunities for demanding better control and implementation.”

How would you like the ENVI committee to be involved in the ongoing reform process of the Common Fisheries Policy?
“On biodiversity issues, but also in a general budget review, aiming at phasing out harmful subsidies.”

Axel Naver

Download the report: EU Subsidies for polluting and unsustainable practices (pdf)

Related article: “The role of subsidies in overfishing cannot be over-emphasized”

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