A flood of studies urge MEPs to ban destructive subsidies

Several recent reports – including one previously held secret – condemn the current use of fisheries subsidies and call for radical change. On 10 July the EP fisheries committee will vote on the new fisheries fund, and on 15 July member states will adopt their updated position.

With the upcoming vote on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), it is hard to find voices in support of the current subsidy regime or the rapporteur’s proposals for the new one.

Oceana: 65 percent of subsidies are of the ugly kind
Oceana today (8 July) released a report concluding that only 1 percent of state aid subsidies directly benefit the marine environment, while 65 percent could be categorised as environmentally harmful.

The report shows that member states have granted €4,9 billion in the form of state aid to their fishing sectors – most of which has promoted overfishing – in addition to the € 8 billion from the official EU funding mechanisms.

> Read the report: State Aid – The Hidden Subsidies

Secret French study revealed
A report by the French Court of Auditors on the use of fisheries subsidies was kept confidential for two years, French newspapers revealed on Thursday 4 July.

The report shows that France’s fishing sector survives only because of massive public funds. In 2008, excluding industrial fleets for which data was not available, financial aid totalled 2.5 times the sector’s average gross operating profit (GOP), and four times its net income after tax. The report goes further calls local aid a “black hole”.

> Le Nouvel Observateur: Le rapport secret sur la pêche française
> Le Monde: La Cour des comptes porte un jugement très sévère sur la politique de subventions à la pêche
> Claire Nouvian, BLOOM: Révélations du rapport secret et impitoyable de la Cour des Comptes sur les aides d’Etat à la pêche

157 scientists: stop subsidies that support overfishing
In a letter sent to MEPs today (8 July), 157 scientists write: “The EU needs to move away from direct fleet subsidies, such as funds for new engines, the building or modernizing of vessels, or leaving vessels to lay idle in port. Instead public money should be spent for the public benefit and focussed on control of compliance with management rules, data collection, scientific research and stock assessments.”

> Read the scientists’ letter to MEPs

Nef: Why would we spend €1.6bn on new boats?
The New Economics Foundation released a report 4 July, where they argue that the proposed subsidy for new vessel construction – equivalent to 16.9 percent crew wages for all EU fishers – could have a tremendous amount of societal good if put to alternative uses.

> Nef: Paying for overfishing

Europêche:
The European fisheries and aquaculture sector, represented by organisations Europêche and Copa-Cogeca, on 5 July released their position ahead of the committee vote. Contrary to the organisations referred to above, they believe that the scope of the proposed amendments on vessel construction and modernisation “is rather limited and lacks flexibility”.

> Europêche and Copa-Cogeca position on the EMFF

Committee vote Wednesday morning
The vote in the fisheries committee in the European Parliament will take place at 9:30 in the morning, Wednesday 10 July. The vote will be lengthy – the voting list is around 300 pages long. The meeting will be web streamed on the committee website.

> More information about the committee meeting
> News story with link to compromise amendments and more

Council meeting Monday
At the agriculture and fisheries Council meeting 15 July, member states will aim to settle the outstanding issues regarding the EMFF. The intention is to agree on an overall general approach, complementing the partial general approach reached on this proposal last October.

After the Council has adopted its general approach and the Parliament has adopted its position, the two institutions will enter so-called trilogue negotiations later this year. Alain Cadec, the Parliament’s rapporteur, wants to start negotiations immediately after the Committee vote, but many MEPs call for a vote in Plenary before the trilogue negotiations can start.

> More information about the Council meeting

Axel Naver

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