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September 13, 2011

EU subsidies to the fisheries sector, a growing concern

BY: Angela Pauly



After months of research into the issue, we gathered it all into a report, which we made public earlier this week – and the news isn’t good. It now seems that the amount of subsidies to the fishing sectors of EU Member States is 3 times greater than what has previously been acknowledged by the European Commission.

Many of these subsidies encourage the development of overfishing in European waters and the fishing fleet is already two or three times bigger than that would ensure sustainability. Not only that, but did you know that many European fleets could not even operate without subsidies? What’s worse is that the fleets that rely on subsidies the most to stay afloat are those responsible for some of the most environmentally destructive forms of fishing, and those that pollute the most. 

Fuel subsidies, which account for half of all the subsidies in Europe, not only lead to the devastation of fish stocks, but also support bottom trawling, which destroys slow growing marine species, such as deep-sea corals.

Oceana is calling for drastic changes to subsidy policies. These should only be awarded for fishing grounds that are not overfished, where the fleet’s catch capacity fails to match its permitted quotas and where fishing is carried out under strict and rigorous control of species, number, size and existing legislation.

We are in favour of assigning public funds to fishing management plans, fleet reduction, support non-industrial fishing, and the creation of new marine protected areas, to name a few. But such funds should be both part of each country’s fishing policy and internationally regulated, rather than constitute a source of completely uncontrolled external financing.

For more information, I invite you to read our press release or spend five minutes to watch the Oceana TV special which premiered early this week.