Ministers to discuss: should we end overfishing and overspending?

EU fisheries ministers will meet on Monday 14 May to discuss two crucial issues in the fisheries reform: maximum sustainable yield and the new subsidies regime. We provide you with the background.

End overfishing – Maximum sustainable yield (MSY)
The European Commission has proposed that fish stocks should be restored above levels that can produce Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015. This is effectively a proposal to end overfishing, because it would require fishing quotas to be set in a way that allows for fish stocks to be restored.

What is MSY exactly? Learn more in our article Explaining the misunderstandings about MSY: why it’s possible tomorrow.

WWF has made a video which explains what MSY is. Recently, a report concluded that reaching MSY could support more jobs in the fishing sector.

What have member states said already? The initial comments on the Commission’s proposal that were made in the Council’s fisheries working group are summarised in the so-called ‘Bible’, a document which has been leaked and published by the Guardian. The comments on article 2 show that most member states say that they want to achieve MSY by 2015 “where possible”.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki has said that a more binding approach is needed, because “‘where possible’ may mean ‘never'”. Ulrike Rodust, the Parliament’s rapporteur, proposes that exploitation rates shall ensure MSY by 2015.

To guide the ministers’ discussion on Monday, the Danish presidency has prepared three questions on MSY.

The money – European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
Ministers will also discuss the proposal for the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

Subsidies are a sensitive issue. Without them, the European fishing fleet would currently be running at a 4.6% loss. But, in fact, research shows that fisheries would be more profitable if subsidies were removed.

Nevertheless, 14 member states last year signed declarations calling for maintaining generous fisheries subsidies.

Today, 12 May, Ocean 2012 released a briefing – ‘Subsidising fishing: how many times must we pay for our fish?‘ – which is intended to expose how EU taxpayers’ money is being spent fuelling EU overfishing. Said Markus Knigge, spokesperson for Ocean2012: “Public funds should be directed to restoring fisheries not to fuel overfishing.”

The Danish presidency has prepared questions about the EMFF that will be discussed by ministers.

Follow the meeting
The Council will webstream the meeting on on Monday 14 May 2012, at 11:15.

More information about the meeting here: Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, 14–15 May

Axel Naver

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