Brussels, 29th January 2014 --- European policy makers have reached a political agreement for the future of EU fisheries subsidies, setting aside approximately €6.5 billion in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that will support the EU’s fisheries sector until 2020.

The EMFF will support implementing the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that was agreed in 2013.

Brussels, 29th January 2014 --- European policy makers have reached a political agreement for the future of EU fisheries subsidies, setting aside approximately €6.5 billion in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that will support the EU’s fisheries sector until 2020.

The EMFF will support implementing the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that was agreed in 2013.

However the content of the agreement is not fully favorable to the support of sustainable fisheries in the longer term. There will be financial support for temporary cessation and engine replacement, albeit with some restrictions. These are both measures that will cause a slowdown of the process of returning European fish stocks to sustainable levels and improving the economic viability of European fleets.

The agreement also contains positive measures. Funding for data collection has been increased to € 520 million and for control and enforcement to € 580 million with an increased co-funding share through the EMFF, which will help to improve the situation at data-limited fish stocks in European seas and allow for better scientific assessments. In addition, the agreement contains provisions that strengthen the possibility introduced in the CFP basic regulation last year to make funding conditional, refusing EU funding to individual fishing operators and Member States that fail to comply with the rules of the CFP.

“This will help to improve the situation of data-limited fish stocks in European seas and allow for better scientific assessments” said Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk. “Improved data collection is much needed not only to underpin the recovery of the fish stocks and the upcoming ban on discarding fish at sea, but also to facilitate the data requirements under existing environmental legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive”.

Over the past months, Seas At Risk and other European NGOs had emphasized that the funding of EU fleets has to underpin the agreement on the CFP basic regulation reached earlier last year, in order to ensure coherence and to guarantee that tax payers’ money is well spent. They strongly argued against subsidies for new builds, advocating an increased budget for data collection, control and enforcement.

In order to support the CFP objectives, no funding should contribute to an increase of fishing capacity nor to the maintenance of current overcapacity. Therefore, funding for fleets, vessels and gears should be made conditional upon adequate assessment of fishing capacity in relation to available fishing opportunities.

The technical details on the political agreement reached yesterday evening will be ultimately negotiated in an additional meeting on Friday 31 January.

Seas At Risk is a European association of non-governmental environmental organisations working to protect and restore to health the marine environment of the European seas and the wider North East Atlantic.

Picture credits: Panthermedia/Scanpix

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