Least fuel-intensive vessels generate the most profits

Vessels operating with beam trawlers are not only damaging the environment – they are also the least profitable, according to a report released today by the European Commission.

The 2010 Annual Economic Report on the EU fishing fleet, released today, shows a reduction in economic performance of the EU fishing sector in recent years.

Some segments of the fleet are worse off than others. “Certain gear types requiring high fuel consumption, such as demersal and beam trawlers, struggle to ensure profitability at all,” according to the report.

Beam trawling is a very fuel-intensive fishing method, since it involves dragging heavy equipment that touches the sea floor. Despite an exemption on fuel tax and subsidies to cover some operating costs, this fleet segment is struggling to keep profitability.

In many cases – such as the fleets of the UK, Belgium and and Netherlands – large beam trawlers are actually operating at a loss.

A second report released today, on Member States’ fishing capacity, concludes that the size of the EU fishing fleet continues to decrease at a very slow pace, maintaining a situation of overcapacity in most of the fleet.

In a press release, the Commission wrote that these studies add further weight to calls for significant structural change within the EU fish catching sector and a far reaching reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki stated “We need to bring EU fleets back to profitability and we must avoid keeping subsidizing overfishing, at a high cost to taxpayers. We need to reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, to provide sustainable solutions to turn this situation around and ensure a viable economic future for the EU fisheries sector.”

In the foreword to the report, Damanaki wrote, “From an economic and social perspective, it is critical that we move towards the creation of better incentives for making the fleets more self-sufficient and economically efficient in the long term.”

Some data on the economic performance is lacking. Greece and Spain did not deliver any 2008 economic data at all to the Commission.

Axel Naver

Read more:
Commission press release
The 2010 Annual Economic Report on the European Fishing Fleet
Report on Member States’ efforts during 2009 to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing
capacity and fishing opportunities

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