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Joan Edwards

Joan Edwards is the Head of Living Seas at The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

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MEPs vote to fuel overfishing

Posted: Tuesday 16th July 2013 by LivingSeas

Saithe ShoalSaithe Shoal- Paul Naylor

Last week, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee voted on the proposals for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This vote was important as it in the next step in determining the future of public financial subsidy to the EU fishing and aquaculture sector. Environmental NGOs throughout Europe have been lobbying MEPs to ensure that the vote on the EMFF does not undermine the achievements made on reforming CFP, by voting for subsidies that support overfishing.

Unfortunately, despite intense campaigning, members of the Fisheries Committee (by a majority of 1), voted to adopt a range of measures that will fuel overfishing. These include:

• Public subsidies of new, larger boats, which will not help reduce the pressure on our fish stocks. Furthermore, this measure will put the UK fishing fleet at a disadvantage as the UK Government has already stated that it will not match subsidies on new builds.

• Money for boats, regardless of size to get an engine overhaul.

• Aid for new boats for new fishermen to enter the industry.

• The use of public funds to act as an insurance policy for aquaculture that pollutes its waters.

This is a hugely frustrating vote. A great deal of progress was made through reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and this risks being undermined by a subsidies process that rather than supporting sustainable and less environmentally damaging fishing activity, supports increase of fleet and pressure on our fish stocks.

However, this is not the final decision as the report has to be approved by the European Parliament. This vote is likely to take place in October and we will continue to campaign to improve this package of measures to ensure that they support a truly sustainable CFP.

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