EU Commissioner says sustainability and data collection are at the heart of fishing subsidies reform

In a reply to Marinet’s letter of 20th May 2013 the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, has informed Marinet that environmental sustainability is at the heart of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and reform of the newly named European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) which disburses fishing subsidies.

Commissioner Damanaki also informs Marinet that the Commission believes that overcapacity in the EU fleet is the main driver of over-fishing. “These proposals” says Commissioner Damanaki, commenting on the CFP and EMFF reform proposals, “recognise that environmental sustainability is a prerequisite for economic and social sustainability and that overcapacity is the main driver of overfishing.”

The Commissioner also lays emphasis on the need for the new EMFF and its subsidies regime to make data collection, and control and enforcement practices central to future policy and the availability of EMFF finance to Member States.

Commissioner Damanaki states: “It [the Commission’s proposal for the reformed EMFF] makes funding conditional on Member States’ administrative capacity to implement the data collection and control and enforcement systems effectively. It limits support for modernisation to clearly defined objectives such as gear selectivity, storing of discards or health and safety.”

Marinet regards these as encouraging signs that reform of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, at least in the hands of the Commission, is along the right lines and that subsidies in the future will be given to conservation-based policies, rather than to extraction-based policies which have led to serial over-fishing in recent years.

Marinet has placed a copy of Commissioner Damanki’s letter dated 20th June 2013 on its website, and Marinet is running a EU-wide Petition which urges President Barroso and the EU Fisheries Ministers to reform fishing subsidies so that from 2014 onwards the rebuilding of fish populations is at the heart of the new subsidies regime .

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