Commission should not go slow on regulating deep-sea fishing

Date: June 13, 2013


Author: Matthew Gianni and Marcus Knigge

On 6 February, the European Parliament used its newly-gained co-decision powers to vote overwhelmingly in favour of an ambitious reform of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, reversing 30 years of failed EU fisheries management.

However, now the Parliament’s fisheries committee is threatening this bold move by voting in favour of a subsidy regime that would hinder the agreed end to EU overfishing, and by seeking to halt crucial improvements to the regulation of destructive deep-sea fisheries (“Deal struck on fisheries reform”,, 30 May).

NGOs and fishermen’s organisations have called on the committee not to drag its feet on the European Commission’s proposal to regulate deep-sea fishing in the North-East Atlantic. After a hearing with a broad range of stakeholders in February, the committee requested a revised impact assessment from the Commission and agreed to hold yet another hearing on 17 June. They are even considering yet another impact assessment. Any further procedural delays would endanger the ability of the full Parliament to complete its deliberations on this file before next year’s elections.

The agreement on the CFP put ‘the environment first’. However, deep-sea bottom-trawling, which the Commission has proposed to phase out, is not only environmentally destructive, but also heavily reliant on subsidies.

On 10 July, the fisheries committee is scheduled to vote on the proposed future fisheries subsidy regime, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Some MEPs want to reintroduce a subsidy to build new vessels – despite the fact that this has been proven to contribute to overfishing and was phased out by the 2002 CFP reform. Furthermore, reintroducing this subsidy would contradict the EU’s Rio+20 commitments and undermine its position in the WTO negotiations.

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