In the middle of April, the European Parliament (EP) gave the rubber stamp to the final deal on the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – €6.5 billion to support the EU’s fishery and maritime policies from 2014 to 2020. The new fund offers improved opportunities for investment in fisheries recovery and the environment, but still includes too many options for perverse subsidies.
In this occasion BirdLife Europe made the following statement:
“The new EMFF has the potential to support positive measures such as data collection, control and enforcement, and management of the marine environment” commented Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy officer at BirdLife Europe. “But some perverse subsidies from the former European Fisheries Fund are still present in this new deal, such as subsidies for engine replacement in fishing vessels, which could increase the fishing capacity of vessels.”
There is broad agreement that the EU has in the past been subsidising a build-up of excessive fishing capacity, estimated by the Commission for some fisheries to be two to three times above the level compatible with sustainable fishing. Scientists advise that 88% of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and 39% of those in the North-east Atlantic are overfished.
Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy at BirdLife Europe concluded “It is now up to national governments to design their national plans for the EMFF, the so called “Operational Programmes”, to spend the money on managing fisheries better, rather than on further encouraging bloated and destructive industrial fishing fleets. We need to start giving a future to fish, fishermen, seabirds and the rest of our marine ecosystem”.
Now that the Parliament has approved the final deal, the Fisheries Ministers need to officially adopt it in the Fisheries Council. In the meanwhile, Member States need to also finalise their EMFF Operational Programmes which are intended to be approved by the European Commission in late 2014. // End of statement
Slovenia is intensively working on the Operative programming (OP) for the EMFF, too. The preparation of the program is lead by the the Fisheries and Hunting Sector from the Ministry of agriculture and the environment. For a purpose of OP preparation minister Židan has established a working group, which consists of representatives of the fisheries and aquacultural sectors, research institutions, maritime affairs and environmental profession, as well as competent ministries for economy and technology, and infrastructure and spatial planning. In the beginning of this year a representative of DOPPS – BirdLife Slovenia was named to the group, too, to contribute to the nature-conservation issues, especially in the area of marine biodiversity, and monitoring and management of marine Natura 2000 sites. The new OP should also contribute to the activities for long-term conservation of the Mediterranean Shag in Slovenia after the end of the project SIMARINE-NATURA. Together with association Morigenos, who’s mission is research and conservation of cetaceans and marine turtles in Slovenian sea, we represent the interests of nature-conservation NGOs, working in the marine environment.
Slovene marine fisheries are quite specific on EU scale, because there is no large industrial fleet and are mostly categorized as small-scale. They have declined after Slovenia had declared its independence, and became spatially very limited. As a result, landing has declined, too. While most maritime EU coutries invested in building-up of large industrial fishing fleet in the past financial period, Slovenia took care of abolishing industrial fisheries through subsidies from the European fisheries fund (EFF) – in year 2012 the last two large fishing vessels, the renowned RIBA I and RIBA II, have been destroyed. Today most active fishing vessels categorize as small-scale. Luckily, the current EMFF strongly supports development and sustainability of this kind of fishing , which is much more environmentaly friendly than the large-scale industrial fisheries. Measures through which Slovenia could support the development of small-scale fisheries are for example: diverzification of fisheries activities, added value to the fisheries products, environmental and nature-conservation services of fisheries and partnership between fishermen, scientist and nature-conservationists, along with simultaneous modernization of old fishing vessels in the direction of better safety and public health assurance. In the scope of the Operative programming, SWOT analysis, analysis of needs, and strategy have already been produced. The steps that follow are choosing appropriate measures for reaching the objectives and preparation of efficiency indicators. Moreover, an environmental impact assessment of the Operative program, which is required prior to signature of partnership contract between the Member state and the European commission, will be produced.
author: Urška Koce