European Maritime Fisheries Fund | WWF

European Maritime Fisheries Fund

Fisheries subsidies must support newly implemented Common Fisheries Policy

In February, the European Parliament took a momentous step by voting in favour of a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) regulation.
The new rules have the ambition to end overfishing and put European fisheries on the path to sustainability and profitability. The upcoming plenary vote on 23 October on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) - the financial instrument of the CFP - is a unique opportunity to ensure that EU taxpayer’s money will support the implementation of a reformed CFP and achieve its ambitious objectives. 

Currently, 39% of assessed stocks in the Atlantic and 88% in the Mediterranean are overfished1. It has been estimated that overfishing could cost us more than €3billion every year in lost income opportunities, whereas recovered stocks could support more than 100,000 jobs2.

To this end, BirdLife Europe, Greenpeace, Oceana, OCEAN2012 and WWF are calling on MEPs to vote for an EMFF which:
  • Increases financial aid for data collection and control and enforcement
  • Ends subsidies which provide incentives for overfishing

Increasing financial aid for data collection and control and enforcement

Effective data collection, control and enforcement are essential pre-conditions for responsible fisheries management. Yet, suitable data is missing for half of the stocks in the North-East Atlantic and adjacent waters3.

Currently, the EU’s annual subsidies for the fishing sector amount to approximately €836 million for structural measures and €156 million for fisheries partnership agreements. At the same time, only €50 million per year each is allocated for research and data collection, and for control and enforcement measures. The EU’s Court of Auditors recently criticised this as being too little4.

Ending aid that incentivises overfishing

During recent funding periods, subsidies have been used to increase the EU’s fleet capacity (often beyond sustainable limits) by subsiding new vessels, new engines and paying to let vessels lay idle in port (temporary cessation). In fact, EU subsidies are largely responsible for the EU’s fishing capacity outgrowing sustainable levels – in some fisheries by a factor of two to three as estimated by the European Commission.

Overfishing is widespread in EU waters. More and bigger vessels mean more economic competition for a dwindling resource base. Eliminating aid that provides incentives for overfishing is crucial to rebuilding fish stocks and securing a viable future for the sector.

[1] COM(2013) 319 final Communication from the Commission to the Council concerning a consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2014 
[2] (NEF (new economics foundation) (London, 2012), Jobs Lost at Sea)
[3] Communication from the Commission to the Council concerning a consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2014; COM(2013) 319 final
[4] European Court of Auditors Special Reports on fisheries No 7/2007 and 12/2011