Today in a press conference in Brussels, WWF's Endangered Seas Campaign:
- exposed the staggeringly high level of subsidies offered to the European fishing industry;
- criticised most fishing subsidies for making no environmental or economic sense;
- warned the EU of the growing momentum to reduce and reform fishing subsidies.
WWF showed that the EU fishing industry is conservatively estimated to have received 906 million Euro in 1997 from the European Union plus 496 million Euro in national aid from EU member state governments - a total of more than 1.4 billion Euro. This figure is equivalent to 14,000 Euro per boat*, 200 Euro per tonne of fish produced, 2 Euro for every 10 Euro worth of fish landed, or over 5400 Euro per fisherman**.
Julie Cator, WWF European Fisheries Coordinator, said "Most subsidies for the fishing industry make no environmental or economic sense. Taxpayer money provides a huge incentive to increase fishing fleets and to overfish. It is an industry with too many boats chasing too few fish. Taxpayers are underwriting overfishing around the world, particularly in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The reform and reduction of fishery subsidies would save taxpayer money today and, more importantly, the world's supply of fish for future generations."
"WWF calls on the European Union and all major fishing nations to start planning now to phase out those fishing subsidies that encourage overfishing. The growing momentum to end harmful fishing subsidies cannot be ignored. Seven top fishing nations including the USA, Iceland and the Philippines have already issued a formal call to put fishing subsidies on the agenda at next year's WTO talks. The EU must seize the opportunity to reform its own fishing subsidies. It can do so through the WTO, the new regional aid programme starting next year, the new CFP in 2002 and the consultation on the future of international fishing agreements."
EU fishing subsidies include money to upgrade fishing gear, grants to build new vessels, aid for processing and marketing fish products, and the purchase of fishing rights in non-EU countries' waters. Sources of fishing subsidies include the European Fisheries Guarantee Fund and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance.
Julian Scola, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office, tel +32 2 743 8806