€3.3 Billion in EU Taxpayer Handouts Keep Uneconomic Fishing Industry Afloat
New Oceana Report Finds Nearly Half of EU Countries Receiving More in Subsidies than Value of Fish Catch
Press Release Date: September 13, 2011
Location: Washington, D.C.
Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, revealed today that taxpayer handouts totaling EUR 3.3 billion are keeping the European Union’s (EU’s) fishing industry afloat, which is more than three times greater than the amount typically quoted in public figures. In a new report entitled The European Union and Fishing Subsidies, Oceana shows that government subsidies to the fishing sector in nearly half of the EU countries (13) are greater than the total value of their fish catch.
“Taxpayers are literally paying for fishermen to overfish,” said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director for Oceana. “During these difficult economic times, it is shameful that governments are using hard-earned taxpayer money to destroy a natural resource that more than a billion people depend on worldwide.”
The growing demand for fish, combined with local resource depletion, has promoted the major expansion of Europe’s fishing fleet in both size and reach. Thanks to the growing amount of government subsidies, the EU fishing fleet is now estimated to be two to three times larger than what is sustainable. By financing items such as fuel, these subsidies push Europe’s large fleets to fish in the vast expanses of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Today, more than two-thirds of all EU subsidies have the ability to enhance fishing capacity and promote overfishing.
“Subsidies are a detriment to global competitiveness,” said Sakai. “Subsidies unfairly disadvantage coastal communities by reducing the cost of operations for industrial fishing fleets and increasing the number, size and power of boats competing for fish.”
Among the reports other key findings include:
- Europe is one of the world’s top three subsidizers, along with China and Japan.
- Total subsidies to the fishing sector are equivalent to 50 percent of the value of the total fish catch by the EU in the same year (EUR 6.6 billion).
- Spain, France, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Italy received the most fishing subsidies.
- Fuel subsidies amount for half of all EU fisheries subsidies.
- In 2009, the EU paid close to EUR 150 million to 14 countries to secure access to their fisheries.
For more information surrounding Oceana’s new report, including fact sheets and photos, please visit www.oceana.org/eusubsidies.