The world’s oceans are nearing irreversible collapse. Most of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or facing overexploitation and depletion. In Europe, the oceans are equally in crisis. Only a minority of commercially fished stocks have been assessed or are managed. Of the fish stocks that have been scientifically assessed, the majority are overfished. An increasing number of marine species are threatened, with some nearing extinction.
The European Union fishing industry receives a significant amount of government subsidies. These subsidies have promoted the massive overcapacity of European fishing fleets. The European fishing fleet is now two to three times greater than what is needed to fish sustainably.
A surprising new report by Oceana identifies the European Union as one of the most egregious subsidizers of its fishing industry worldwide, allowing its fisherman to travel around the globe in search of every last fish. Unsurprisingly, the largest amount of these subsidies is spent on fuel, which allows the EU fishing fleets to travel further, and for longer, than the market would normally bear.
The report is the most comprehensive of its kind, and estimates that EU fishing subsidies are now three times higher than previously reported. In nearly half of the EU countries, including leaders like Germany and Denmark, subsidies are worth more than the actual catch. These subsidies have allowed Europe to maintain a global fishing fleet that is three times larger than what is needed to fish at sustainable levels. What’s worse yet is that these subsidies allow destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, which would otherwise be economically doubtful.
We know that 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are already maxed out or beyond – so it doesn’t help that taxpayer Euros are being siphoned off by the millions to underwrite their destruction. In contrast, unsubsidized fisheries in the North Sea actually saw an increase in revenue and fish populations.
The full report can be viewed at www.oceana.org/eusubsidies.