MEPs tighten Common Fisheries Policy funding rules

In June, a new common fisheries policy was rewritten and approved by Parliament. Good news! The common fisheries policy had been destroying the world’s oceans and wasting millions of fish. A vote this week threatened to turn the clock back, but didn’t. Here’s what we thought of it.

The European Parliament has endorsed the progressive new fisheries rules it agreed earlier this year in the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy with today’s vote on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. MEPs have voted to improve on current funding rules by ensuring that there should be no subsidies for fishers or Member States who break the rules. Aid will be conditional on compliance.

Flaminia Tacconi, ClientEarth’s Maritime and Fisheries Lawyer, is an expert on fisheries subsidies: “It seems very obvious that fishers who break the rules should not receive hard-earned tax-payers’ money, and we  congratulate the Parliament on stopping this until now common practice.”

Importantly, the Parliament also supported increased financing for data collection and fisheries control, both crucial to end overfishing, and increased transparency of decision-making enabling better public oversight of how taxpayers’ millions are spent.

In a vast improvement on the Commission’s proposals, the Parliament also required aid for aquaculture to be used for sustainable practices. This could prove crucial to preventing potentially serious environmental consequences.

Although MEPs voted against subsidies for new vessel construction, they voted for subsidies for scrapping of old vessels, engine replacement, stopping fishing temporarily or permanently and for pure operating costs.

Flaminia Tacconi said: “The European Parliament didn’t have the courage to depart from direct subsidies, particularly for scrapping of old vessels and engine replacement, that have proved most damaging historically.

“However, Parliamentarians did limit the impact of this aid by capping it and by introducing time limits, and they did not allow aid for new vessels.

“EU aid for the construction of fishing vessels was already eliminated ten years ago because of the damage this caused. That its re-introduction was even discussed in the Parliament was very worrying, but it is fantastic that Parliamentarians decided to support economically and environmentally sustainable fisheries instead.”

After the European Parliament’s vote today, final agreement on what the new fisheries funding rules will look like will now depend on the informal ‘trilogue’ negotiation process between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. It is expected that this process will start immediately and conclude by the end of the year.

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