The European Parliament voted to support changes to the Common Fisheries Policy intended to curb overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.
The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020. MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.
Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross-party campaign group ‘Fish for the Future’, welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy.
“We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse.
“Grants of this kind were halted nearly a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal. To have reinstated them would have been a crazy step backwards.”
However, the Lib Dem MEP also expressed his disappointment that a majority of MEPs voted in favour of subsides for engine replacements. Mr Davies added:
“Modern engines can do the job more effectively than old ones and so increase the catching capacity of the fishing fleet without creating any new jobs.
“We want more fish in the sea to give fishermen a successful future – not subsidies for a few. That is why Lib Dem MEPs opposed both the fleet renewal and engine replacement proposals.”
The Parliament supported the use of funds to help fishermen buy more selective gear, to improve port facilities, and to obtain more scientific data about the state of fish stocks.