Euro row looms over transferable quotas –

Euro row looms over transferable quotas Published:  07 May, 2010

A SPLIT is looming  over  European fishing reform – and transferable quotas in particular – following this week’s ministerial meeting in Vigo, Spain.

The ministers agreed to change their £750-million annual  fishing subsidies policy  to make the industry more sustainable. But there was not general agreement on the details of how overfishing should be tackled. This was the meeting that Scottish Fisheries Secretary Rich Lochhead was refused permission to attend.

Spain has openly supported the establishment of a European market for fishing rights, which would enable fishing companies to buy catch quotas from each other – a system similar to that adopted by Iceland some years ago. But is almost certain to be opposed by Britain, Ireland and France has  also said they do not want it.

The  idea of transferable quotas was rejected by most other EU nations led by France at the two-day talks designed to form the basis of  a new Common Fisheries Policy. France said it was against a Europe-wide system of transferable quotas, because each country was different.The French representative said: “That would create a windfall in some countries” to the detriment of others which do not have the same fleet structure.”

Javier Garat, the secretary general of Spanish fishermen’s federation said: “Fishing  is one of those sectors where we do not apply all the rules of the internal market.”

However, countries Netherlands and Denmark which already have such a system at the national level opposed setting up an EU-wide system, fearing that the larger foreign companies could muscle in and buy up everything.

The Greek EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said transferable fishing quotas could be “a good tool to fight overcapacity at the national level” as long as it is accompanied by safeguards to prevent excessive concentration.” However, not many fishermen in the UK will share that view.