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European Parliament Votes Against Fishing Fleet Renewal

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ANALYSIS - The European parliament has voted against the reintroduction of subsidies for the building new fishing boats during discussions on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

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Members of the European Parliament have now agreed a position on the proposed EMFF, which is worth over €6.5 billion between 2014 and 2020.

Members agreed draft rules for the allocation of the EMFF, which should help fishermen to comply with new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) requirements.

To help fishermen comply with the discard ban, the EMFF will help fund more selective fishing gear and equipment to deal with unwanted catches.

Parliament also voted to double investment in data collection as, with more information available, fish stocks can be better understood and managed. This will also help fisheries authorities fight illegal fishing.

"With this vote, Parliament has provided a good future for our model of sustainable fisheries, which means first and foremost concrete measures to eliminate overfishing, and good management of fleet capacity, while enabling fishermen to make a living from fishing," said rapporteur Alain Cadec (EPP, FR).

One of the most welcomed decisions of the meeting was the vote against the reintroduction of fleet renewal subsidies.

EMFF support was given however for the modernisation or replacement of engines, provided that the new engine's power output is at least 40 per cent less than that of the engine it replaces.

Parliament also included a package on support for young fishermen under 35 years of age.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the outcome of the vote: "I am pleased with the overall outcome of the vote. In particular, I welcome the decision to reject spending EU taxpayers' money on building new fishing vessels and to cap the amount of funds Member States can spend on fishing fleets. This will allow the EMFF to focus on funding projects which promote a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities. I also welcome that Parliament decided that all stakeholders should be able to benefit from support contributing to their participation in Advisory Councils."

Agreeing with the Parliament's vote on fleet renewal, Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office, stated: “The decision gives European fish stocks a real fighting chance. Funding for fleet renewal ended in 2002 and a reintroduction of these subsidies would have dangerously increased the capacity of the fleet, given boats a longer range and resulted in the destruction of the few remaining healthy fish stocks.”

“We have dodged a bullet as the proposal on the table would have made fish stock recovery measures agreed in the summer pointless.”

Markus Knigge, policy advisor to the OCEAN2012 coalition and The Pew Charitable Trust, also commented: “Today’s vote sends a very clear message to EU fisheries ministers that they must work to increase aid for data collection, fisheries control, and enforcement in the upcoming negotiations between the Parliament and Council on the European Maritime Fisheries Fund.”

“Members of Parliament have also made clear that they do not want to see public funds going to those who break the rules.”

Now the Parliament and fisheries ministers will enter into negotiations to agree on the final EMFF in November.

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