Damanaki, NGOs praise EMFF vote

The European Commission's vote on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) drew praise this week from NGOs and Europe's fisheries commissioner as a step in the right direction to prevent overfishing.

The vote, held on 23 October, covers the EMFF from 2014-2020. Among the key provisions being lauded are a rejection of using taxpayer funds to aid vessel construction and the establishment of clear limits on how much funding Member States can spend on their respective fishing fleets.

"I am pleased with the overall outcome of the vote," said Maria Damanaki, European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries. "This will allow the EMFF to focus on funding projects which promote a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities."

Damanaki, a supporter of sustainable fishing practices, also said the EMFF vote will support the recent implementation of an updated common fisheries policy (CFP), which includes further reforms to support fish stocks.

Activist group Greenpeace also praised the EMFF vote, but in a statement noted "a number of loopholes remain that would allow governments to continue to boost the ability of Europe's fleet to catch fish."

"The (European) Parliament has put its weight behind positive initiatives, calling for more research on stock recovery measures and the monitoring of fishing vessels," said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace's E.U. fisheries policy director. "This can help make sustainable EU fisheries a reality, as long as governments follow the direction that Parliament set."

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), also noted the EMFF fund vote includes a package on jobs for young fishermen and sustainable fishing practices training.

"Today's decision gives European fish stocks a real fighting chance," said Tony Long, director of the WWF's European policy office. "Funding for fleet renewal ended in 2002 and a reintroduction of these subsidies would have dangerously increased the capacity of the fleet, given boats a longer range and resulted in the destruction of the few remaining healthy fish stocks. Today we have dodged a bullet."

And advocacy group Seas at Risk also applauded the EMFF vote, but like the other groups, cautioned that more work needs to be done to ensure sustainable fishing off Europe's coastline.

"With today's vote parliamentarians have recognized the need to fund a sustainable and profitable future for European fisheries, not the building of unnecessary new boats," said Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk. "Still, questionable support remains for measures such as temporary cessation, engine replacement and scrapping."


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