Fisheries subsidies wreck ecosystems

Following the dramatic position adopted by the Council of the EU on 18 June to reopen the most harmful fisheries subsidies in Europe — i.e. subsidies to build new vessels — the international scientific community keeps sounding the alarm with a short communication published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature on 3 July 2019.

The article, entitled “Fisheries subsidies wreck ecosystems”, is co-authored by world-renowned fisheries economist Rashid Sumaila (University of British Columbia, Canada), Sebastian Villasante (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain), and Frédéric Le Manach (BLOOM). The authors urge both the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to drastically revise their position on the next European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), which will allocate over six billion euros of public subsidies between 2021 and 2027.

In stark contrast with the current position of these two EU institutions that jeopardizes any international effort to end these harmful subsidies, they demand that EU public subsidies be allocated in such a way that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular target 14.6, are fulfilled, i.e. “a generous slice of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for 2021–27 should be allocated to environmental protection, research, control and data collection”.

“Europe must avoid providing subsidies that take fish from future generations and that set a bad example for the rest of the world at this crucial stage in World Trade Organization negotiations. Academia, non-governmental organizations and civil society must push the European Union to fulfil its sustainability obligations under international agreements and fisheries law”.

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