Two hundred scientists have signed a letter urging the European Parliament to stop investing in the environmentally harmful subsidies that the Fisheries Committee has voted for. On October 23, the Parliament will vote on the new financial mechanism for fisheries for the next seven years– the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
“The Parliament cannot continue to ignore the mounting evidence against using taxpayer money to fund harmful subsidies. Failing to act will put the future of fishermen across Europe at risk. We urge them not to ignore the call of 200 scientists and many more individual citizens to use the EMFF for the good of the public,” said Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe.
The scientists are calling for public money to be spent for the public benefit, by investing in data collection, scientific research, stock assessments and control of compliance with management rules. In July, the Fisheries Committee, which is heavily influenced by the fishing industry and is the lead committee on this file, voted to reintroduce subsidies to build new boats, even though these subsidies have been prohibited for over a decade because they increased the capacity of the fleet and incentivized overfishing.
“Parliament members have the responsibility to represent the interest of the majority of the citizens, not a minority of fishing operators. They must undo the misguided decision of the Fisheries Committee vote to maintain harmful subsidies, and instead choose to invest in rebuilding fish stocks,” added Vanya Vulperhorst, subsidies policy advisor at Oceana.
According to a report by Oceana, the EU has granted €12.9 billion in subsidies to the fishing sector since 2000. These massive amounts of public funds have failed to improve the economic sustainability of the sector, and contributed very little to rebuilding overfished stocks. The European Commission acknowledges that 88% of assessed stocks in the Mediterranean and 39% in the Atlantic are still overfished.
Learn more: Subsidies