EU fishing FURY: Blocs £5.2bn fisheries fund shamed for destruction of nature at sea

France 'punishing UK' with fishing crisis says expert

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The European Parliament yesterday gave its final approval on the 2021-2027 fisheries and aquaculture fund, which is designed to support the blue economy, protect biodiversity and promote international ocean governance. Much of the cash from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) will be used to rebuilding the bloc’s pandemic-stricken coastal communities. One plan is to bring younger people into the fisheries industry, where workers’ average age is now over 50.

The EMFAF can finance the first vessel for young fishermen, younger than 40, who have at least five years of experience or an equivalent qualification.

But campaigners at BirdLife Europe have complained that the multi-billion pound war chest will encourage overfishing and fuel the demise of nature at sea.

Anouk Puymartin, EU Marine Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe, said: “In the past days the world has watched in horror as our oceans go up in actual flames.

“With the new EMFAF, the EU is quite literally adding fuel to the ecocide happening in our seas. 

“Europeans already know that our oceans are degraded and every day they commit to more actions to save marine life. For those citizens, to see elected politicians vote to use their tax monies to continue killing our oceans is a direct slap in the face.

“This vote shows that the Members of the EU Parliament are more interested in fighting on behalf of the fishing industry, instead of listening to the people who elected them.”

The organisation claimed that “harmful subsidies” make up over 60 percent of global fisheries handouts, or around £17 billion.

They include any subsidy that reduces the operational costs of the fishing industry, such as building new boats or funding engine replacements.

BirdLife says some of the funds are used by fishermen and businesses owners to engage in practices that may destroy marine life.

EU countries must now submit their national plans on how they will spend their share of the EMFAF.

BirdLife has called on the European Commission, which must sign off on the national proposals, to block any that do not propose effective measures to reduce the impact of fisheries on biodiversity.

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The campaigners also insisted that Brussels should not shy away from punishing member states that use the cash to finance overfishing.

Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato, the EU Parliament’s negotiator for the fund, said an agreement was reached at a “challenging time” for the fisheries industry.

He said: “The new EMFAF was negotiated at a challenging time. The EU fleet lost important fishing grounds because of Brexit, the seafood value chain was paralysed because of the pandemic, and there was pressure to reach an agreement in the WTO on fisheries subsidies.

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“In addition, the young generation is reluctant to enter the profession, CO2 emissions must be reduced in line with the Green Deal and international obligations, and aquaculture production is stagnating, while in third countries the sector is thriving.

“This fund humbly seeks to contribute to mitigating these challenges.”

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