Public money for public benefit in the fisheries reform

How should public money be used to create the greatest public benefit in the EU fisheries policy? This question was discussed at a conference in the European Parliament 11 April.

MEPs are in the midst of preparing the committee vote, scheduled late May, on the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which will govern how to spend more than € 6 billion on fisheries in the period 2014 to 2020.

The parliament’s rapporteur, Alain Cadec (EPP), wants some funds to be used for the construction of new vessels to replace old vessels. Money for vessel construction was removed in the last CFP reform, and most of the political groups in the Parliament oppose the measure.

At a conference 11 April, organised by the Greens in the European Parliament, experts discussed how the money could be used on other measures.

Develop the community – not the boats
13 percent of the current fisheries subsidy regime is budgeted for local projects administered by Farnet (The European Fisheries Areas Network), a project which uses a new approch to fishing subsidies: it focuses on developing the territorial area of a fishing community, not only the fishing sector.

Gilles van de Walle from Farnet presented a range of projects that have helped communities increase the benefit from fishing. For example, a Danish company got support to develop a new flavouring product from an underused species of crab. In a French city, a project has created harbour jobs for injured fishermen that can no longer work at sea.

> Download the presentation of Gilles van de Walle

More money for data collection and control
Public money should be used for public goods, instead of increasing private profits, said Markus Knigge, Pew Environment Group. He therefore recommended to move some of the money from structural measures to data collection and control and enforcement.

He further said that compliance with the rules of the CFP must be a compulsory criterion in order for member states or individual operators to be able to use money from the EMFF.

But threatening to withhold money is not necessarily the best way to ensure compliance, Knigge said: “The biggest public resource is the fish itself. The European Parliament has realised that member states should take into account the history of compliance as one of the criteria for the distribution of fishing opportunities.”

> Download the presentation of Markus Knigge

Better safety – not through more investments
Bertrand Le Gallic, University of Brest, said that “modernisation” is a concept that can entail more than replacing engines. The development of new products, increasing product quality and traceability are ways to modernise the fishing industry and increase profitability without increasing fishing capacity, he said.

Some MEPs call for more money to buy safety equipment aboard vessels, but Le Gallic said this is not the best way do decrease accidents in fishing. It would be more efficient to revise the fishing methods used, he said. Some fishing gears – especially non-towed gears – are safer than others. Most fishing accidents are linked to trawlers. A management system that leads to “derby fishing” – i.e. fishing a lot under a short time period – also increases the risk of accidents, Le Gallic said.

> Download the presentation of Bertrand Le Gallic

Resources for inspections and enforcement
Arien Blees-Booij, from the Dutch Court of Auditors, talked about the fact that although there is less capacity for inspections and enforcement, there are an increasing amount of tasks to be carried out. She called for better balance between control requirements and spending.
> Download the presentation of Arien Blees-Booij

Finally, Antonio García Allut from the Lonxanet Foundation emphasised the importance of co-management and co-operation, particularly in relation to the establishment of marine protected areas. He said that in order to achieve compliance with rules, it is important to involve the fishing sector in the development of rules.
> Download the presentation of Antonio García Allut

> Watch the recorded video of the conference

Axel Naver

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