CEO Note: Great News for European Fisheries - Oceana USA
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October 28, 2013

CEO Note: Great News for European Fisheries

I have some wonderful news out of our European offices that I’d like to share with you. Last Wednesday, the European Parliament took a tremendous step forward in restoring the health of our oceans and our fisheries. They voted to significantly limit harmful subsidies that enable overfishing, leading to the collapse of any of Europe’s fisheries.

Oceana and our allies have been campaigning for five years to reform the rules that allocate fisheries subsidies in Europe—an outdated set of laws that distribute subsidies and funding for fishermen and fisheries management.

The new legislation, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, stops overfishing in multiple ways. It prohibits subsidies for new boats, which encourage overfishing by building up unnecessarily-large fishing fleets. Unfortunately, a few equipment subsidies were voted through, but these are limited by a budget ceiling and will be denied to operators with a record of illegal fishing. Previous rules saw shocking examples of EU subsidies awarded to beneficiaries who were involved in illegal fishing.  In one case, an operator whose vessels were on international black lists for illegal fishing received almost €10 million over 10 years.

The legislation also doubled funding for fisheries management and data collection. Science is the only way to set accurate fishing quotas, and data collection is essential to making sure we’re not taking too many fish out of our oceans. Lastly, the bill approved by the EU Parliament also introduced funding to identify and manage marine protected areas, which protect biodiversity and improve the health of our oceans. Parliament will now start negotiating this bill with EU governments, and a final bill is expected early next year.

This historic vote affects ocean health far beyond European waters. European fishermen don’t just fish in Europe—their ships haul up massive loads of fish in oceans across the world, and this legislation will protect the fish stocks in all of our oceans.

For the oceans,
Andy Sharpless
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. If you want to learn more about the vote, this article in the New York Times summarized how fishing subsidies hurt artisanal fisherman. You can also read their coverage of the vote here.