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Heavily subsidized European trawlers could be allowed to continue to overfish the waters of developing countries despite mounting evidence that stocks are being devastated and that African coastal populations are being deprived of food.

Documents seen by the Guardian show that Spain, which dominates EU fishing with nearly 25 percent of its boats, is pressing hard in EU ministerial meetings to exempt European vessels from proposed tighter rules when they work outside EU waters.

The two documents, dated 30 January 2012 and 3 February 2012, were leaked from the council of the EU and contain the commission's draft proposals for reform of the external fisheries policy. They show that Britain has argued strongly for much stronger rules to govern EU fleets wherever they fish.

Concern is mounting that the EU heavily subsidizes — to the tune of UER 1.9 billion a year — some of the world’s biggest and most powerful freezer-trawler vessels to work in the waters of over 20 of the world’s poorest countries using bilateral agreements, known as Fisheries partnership agreements (Fpas).

But a new report by Greenpeace International shows that these agreements allow European fleets to unfairly compete with artisanal fishermen and that most commercial fish stocks in West African waters are now fully or over-exploited.

Click here to read the full story from The Guardian >

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