Without subsidies, 4.6% loss for EU fishing fleet

In 2009 the entire EU fleet was making a 4.6% loss when direct income subsidies were not taken into account. With the subsidies the fleet was still operating at a 1.5% loss. For the trawler fleet segments the loss was even larger.

These figures were presented at a seminar in the European Commission last week, and add to the dismal numbers presented by the Commission in June in a report on the economy of the European fishing fleet.

The amount of available subsidies that helped reduce the loss of European vessels in 2009 totalled € 3.3 billion, according to a report released this week by Oceana, an environmental NGO.

“The EU fishing industry’s addiction to European taxpayer funded subsidies has led to overfishing, fleet overcapitalization, reduced economic efficiency in the sector and the failure to obtain the potential economic benefits from the resource,” said Anne Schroeer, Baltic Sea Project manager at Oceana Europe, in a written statement.

Fisheries subsidies are provided both by the EU and by Member States. Normally, the amounts of subsidies from different sources are reported individually. In their report, Oceana compiled information from all financial instruments to reveal the total amount of subsidies available in 2009. Their finding is that in 2009, subsidies available to the fishing sector totalled € 3.3 billion, and that in 13 Member States, the amount they were given in subsidies was higher than the total value of their fish landings.

According to Oceana’s report, the amount of fuel subsidies and fuel tax exemption totalled € 1.4 billion, which is more than the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and State Aid combined (See page 8 of the report).

It is not only the economy that is in a bad state – so are the fish. At the Commission seminar last week, new figures on the state of Mediterranean fish stocks were presented. According to STECF, around 87% of Mediterranean stocks are estimated to be overexploited in 2009-2010.

Axel Naver

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