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OCEAN2012: Consumers Paying for Fish Many Times Over

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UK - Environmental coalition OCEAN2012 has criticised excessive EU fishing subsidies ahead of an EU Fisheries Council Meeting to be held in Brussels this week. Ministers at the meeting will debate how future subsidies should be spent and how to reach sustainable fishing limits.

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"Subsidised overfishing has meant subsidised environmental and economic failure. Healthy fish stocks could mean more fishing and more jobs. said Ian Campbell, UK Coordinator for OCEAN2012, a coalition of over 160 organisations dedicated to ending overfishing in the EU.

We need to redirect our public taxes away from fuelling overfishing and towards restoring the EU's fisheries to their optimal levels, which in turn will increase their profitability.

"In EU waters 63 per cent of assessed stocks in the Atlantic are overfished. Around 82 per cent of stocks are overfished in the Mediterranean as are four out of the six stocks in the Baltic. This is the result of poor decision-making based on short-term considerations. It is estimated that in the EU overfishing is costing us at least 3.2billion a year, yet in the last five years roughly 13 billion of taxpayers money has been spent subsidising the EU fishing sector to increase the capacity of fleets, and to pay for modernisation, fuel, fees and scrapping. Taxpayers and consumers should know that as things stand, they are paying for their fish many times over," said Mr Campbell.

"Governments at the table in Brussels must take this opportunity to rise to the challenge and tackle Europe's overfishing crisis head on, instead of arranging yet more industry handouts at the taxpayers expense"

A briefing published by the coalition reveals some of the ways subsidies are leading to overfishing, including:

  • Between 2000 and 2008, public subsidies of 33.5 million were spent on modernising the fleet targeting endangered bluefin tuna;
  • Annually about 850 million in EU subsidies is used to support structural measures, including vessel modernisation, but less than 50 million to support control and enforcement aid and less than 50 million for scientific data collection; and
  • Several operators convicted of illegal fishing activities continue to benefit from EU subsidies.
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