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40 organisations call on Commissioners Vella and Malmström to uphold subsidies ban on new fishing vessels

Brussels, Belgium – WEBWIRE

In a letter submitted today to Karmenu Vella and Cecilia Malmström, 40 environmental organisations call for the European Commission to uphold the current State Aid Guidelines to the fisheries sector and prevent subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels in the EU’s outermost regions.

The European Commission is currently planning a revision of the State Aid Guidelines that will grant subsidies to the fishing sector for the construction of new vessels. The current ban against these types of subsidies has existed in the EU since 2004 and was maintained during the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2014 due to the detrimental effects additional vessels have on the marine environment. 

If adopted, these subsidies would undermine the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to end overfishing, go against the objectives of the European Fisheries and Maritime Fund (EMFF)which bans subsidies for vessel construction, and send the wrong political signal from the EU to political leaders around the world.

Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy at WWF European Policy Office said: “Adopting subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels would increase the EU’s already high level of fishing capacity, threatening the recovery of fish populations in the EU’s outermost regions. With the strong vision set by the CFP to fish at sustainable levels by 2020 and the global SDG 14 targets in mind, the EU must not back down from its ocean governance commitments that support a robust and sustainable blue economy.”

The EU is an active advocator on the global stage for the prohibition of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. It is striving to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDG 14) which explicitly calls for harmful fisheries subsidies to be prohibited by 2020.To re-introduce the types of subsidies in question contradicts the EU position held during World Trade Organisation negotiations, where it argued that Nations/States should no longer maintain subsidies that would increase marine fishing capacity. 

These State Aid Guidelines are not subject to the EU co-decision procedure whereby a decision would be voted upon by the European Parliament and Council to bring it into effect; the decision to re-implement these subsidies is, therefore, completely in the hands of the European Commission.

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