Commission sticks to plan to end subsidies for new boatsBrussels, Belgium - The European Commission�s much-delayed plans for reforming the EU�s fisheries policy still features a proposal to end EU aid for building new boats or modernising existing boats said WWF.
EU spending plans 2000 to 2006 included over 650 million euros on scrapping boats while at the same time paying 839 million euros to modernise and build new boats. But now the EU proposes to end this self-defeating policy.
"It is a nonsense to spend millions of euros every year in scrapping boats if you invest even more in building new ones," said Julie Cator, WWF European Fisheries Coordinator. "The Commission is seeking a long-overdue end to an absurd contradiction."
The Commission also proposes new measures for reducing the fleet, both by setting national fleet reduction targets and by giving the possibility of setting effort reduction targets through the multiannual management plans for stocks.
But no binding overall capacity reduction targets are set � WWF believes that fleet capacity needs to be cut by about a half. An extra 272 million Euro will be allocated for scrapping boats from 2003 to 2006.
"There is no guarantee that the Commission�s proposals will actually achieve the necessary cuts in fleet size," said Julie Cator. In addition, the conservation organization criticized the proposals for not going far enough to protect the environment and for being too weak on fisheries agreements, especially with African countries.
WWF believes the draft CFP legislation does not do enough to cut the accidental catch of non-targeted marine species such as dolphins, turtles and juvenile fish, and to limit damage to the sea environment - such as the sea bottom, corals, sea grass forests and other important habitats - from excessive damage from fishing gear.
Environmental protection measures are mainly contained in non-binding action plans. "Environmental protection is not an optional extra," added Julie Cator. "Abundant fish stocks need a healthy marine environment."
The same is true of the �access agreements� under which the EU buys fishing rights from nations along the coast of African and elsewhere.
Here the European Commission proposes no legally binding commitment to create fairer or more ecologically sustainable fishing agreements with developing countries.
WWF urges the Governments of the European Union not to water down these proposals but to strengthen them.
"This reform offers a last chance to save Europe�s fishing industry and fish resources," concluded Julie Cator.
Last minute pressure from Spain to remove the propsoal to end EU subsidies to modernise and build new fishing boats resulted in a month�s delay in the publication of the Commission�s proposals.
For further information:
Julian Scola, tel: +32 2 743 8806, mobile: +32 486 117 394
Angelina Hermanns, tel +32 2 740 0925, mobile: + 32 497 258 042