EU Fisheries Committee votes to subsidise fishing vessels, reversing the policy of the last 15 years
“The decision taken today is a dramatic backwards step. Allocating taxpayers’ money to directly finance the construction of new vessels or the replacement of engines is counter-productive. This will fuel fisheries’ overcapacity, exacerbating the overfishing problem, without any guarantee of delivering any public good”, said Andrea Ripol, Fisheries Policy Officer at Seas At Risk.
While evidence shows that the capacity of the European fishing fleet has been decreasing for years, fishing vessels catch more and more fish due to technological progress. In the past, the allocation of subsidies for fleet renewal led to a build-up of excessive fishing capacity in Europe. This means that currently too many fishing vessels chase too few fish. The European Parliament’s decision to reintroduce such subsidies for the renewal of the fleet is thus likely to increase overfishing. The safety argument put forward to justify fleet renewal and engine replacement is misleading, as fishing accidents are typically caused by human error rather than the age of the vessel. A more effective way to secure safety at sea would be to invest in crew and community schemes rather than in vessels and machinery.