Parliament rejects vessel construction aid and increases funding for data collection

The European Parliament 23 October voted on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, EMFF. The proposal to subsidise new vessels was rejected. MEPs voted for a cap that would force member states to choose between new engines and new jobs for young people.

No money for new boats
The plenary rejected the fisheries committee’s proposal to subsidise the construction of new vessels. This measure was the main topic of the plenary debate on Tuesday evening and had been the subject to intensive campaigning by NGOs and citizens ahead of the vote.

“Everybody has been focussing on fleet renewal lately, and forgotten everything else,” the rapporteur Alain Cadec (EPP, France) said at a press conference after the vote.

Capacity-enhancing subsidies approved
Although vessel construction was rejected, the Parliament approved many other measures that are defined by scientists as enhancing a fleet’s capacity to catch fish. For example, the Parliament voted in favour of funding for:

* Replacing an old engine with a new model.
* Business start-up for young fishermen.
* Storage aid – i.e. money to store fish for example when market prices are low.
* Temporary cessation of fishing activities, for example during biological rest periods.

Increased funds for research, control & youth employment
The Parliament at the same reduced the funding available for these fleet measures and instead decided to increase funding for data collection and control.

Compared to the Commission’s proposal, the Parliament voted to at least double the funding for data collection, from 6.49 percent to a minimum of 12.97 percent of the resources. The funding for control and enforcement was increased from 8.64 to 12.5 percent of the resources. These increases are to be taken from the funds available for fisheries, aquaculture and fisheries areas – reduced by the Parliament from 82.16 to a maximum of 71.86 percent of the budget.

MEPs also adopted new proposals, put forward by the S&D and Green groups, to subsidise traineeship and education for young people in the small scale fisheries sector. “With today’s vote, the EU is paving the way for more socially and environmentally sustainable fisheries. Finally, the focus is shifted from vessels to employment and fish stocks,” Guido Milana, the S&D shadow rapporteur, said in a press release.

MEPs added a cap on the total contribution from the EMFF to these young employment programmes, temporary cessation and engine replacement – these measures together shall not exceed 20 % of the Union financial assistance allocated per Member State. Essentially, member states would have to choose between buying new engines and creating jobs for young people in the small scale fishing sector.

Scrapping: ambiguous outcome
MEPs approved a proposal to allow scrapping of fishing vessels until 2016, but they also rejected an amendment (189) which would have made scrapping funding eligible.

The Parliament rejected the proposal to fund the transfer of business. Proposals to widen the definition of small-scale fisheries (which would mean that more boats could get more money) were also rejected.

Next: Trilogue negotiations with Council
“The adoption of my report is a success for the preservation of fisheries resources and for the competitiveness of the sector. I will defend these principles in the negotiations with the Council,” Alain Cadec said in a press release.

The Parliament will soon begin negotiations (trilogues) with the Council on the EMFF. Alain Cadec said he hopes that the negotiations will be finished before the end of the year.

Video & documents
Watch the press conference with Alain Cadec after the vote
Watch the plenary debate 22 October
European Parliament press release with links to more documents
Report and amendments

Details on amendments
* Vessel construction subsidies: Parliament rejected amendments 189, 277, 584, 585, 587.
* Engine replacement: Parliament adopted amendments 309–311
* Business transfer: Parliament rejected amendments 193, 265, 275.
* Business start-up: Parliament adopted amendments 276
* Storage aid: Parliament adopted amendments 439–442.
* Temporary cessation: Parliament adopted amendments 191, 281,
* Improved control and enforcement: Parliament adopted amendments 571, 577–582, 610.
* Increased funding for data collection and control: Parliament adopted amendment 611.
* Scrapping (decommissioning): Parliament adopted amendment 624 (without §1c), but also rejected amendment 189.
* Youth employment: Parliament adopted amendments 619–622.

Voting results
European Parliament: Result of roll-call votes.
European Parliament: Voting results

Markus Knigge, Pew & Ocean2012: “Inconsistent with the February vote, members voted in favour of measures that will hinder effective implementation of an ambitious Common Fisheries Policy, such as subsidies for engine replacement and paying fishermen to temporarily stop fishing rather than actually reducing overcapacity.”
Tim Glover, Fish2fork: “It is deeply disappointing that MEPs see fit to offer taxpayers money to renew engines […]. It is difficult to believe that this will not be most heavily used in the parts of Europe where fish stocks are under the greatest pressure and it threatens to undermine some of the great progress made with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.”
Tony Long, WWF, commented on the vote not to reintroduce subsidies for building new boats: “Today we have dodged a bullet as the proposal on the table would have made fish stock recovery measures agreed in the summer pointless.”
Xavier Pastor, Oceana: “We are particularly pleased with the significant increase in crucial funding for data and control.”
Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace: “Europeans want to see healthy seas and an end to overfishing, not perverse subsidies that undermine these goals by keeping an oversized fleet afloat.”
Raül Romeva i Rueda, Greens/EFA: “Instead of voting to end the use of public funds to subsidise overfishing and the over-exploitation of fish stocks, they have voted to give EU funds to practises that are in direct conflict with the goal of more sustainable fisheries.”

Axel Naver

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