Warning over ‘hidden’ plan to expand euro fishing fleets Published: 09 July, 2013
A WARNING has gone out about a European Union plan which will lead to a significant size in member state fishing fleets and, therefore, place more pressure on vulnerable fish stocks.
Charles Clover, founder of the Fish2Fork website and author of End Of The Line, the book which sparked off the great fish debate a few years ago, predicts the scheme will mean another ten years of too many fishing vessels scraping the seabed for too few fish.
Writing in his regular Sunday Times column from, azs he puts it, his holiday caravan on Scotland’s Ayrshire Coast, he has noticed a “disturbing number of trawlers in sight at any one time”. He describes them as mainly prawn trawlers scraping the Firth of Clyde for langoustines.
But the environmental journalist says there is a more worrying prospect , and that is a move by the fisheries committee of the European Parliament to sign off a £5.5 billion subsidies scheme, part of which will be handed to fishermen to build new vessels and modernise their existing fleet.
Mr Clover said financial aid for building new boats was scrapped some years ago. But this new subsidies plan has been dressed up as improving safety measures, encouraging more fuel efficient engines and as start-up support for young fishermen who will receive up to 100,000 euros each. It also has support of both left and right in the European Parliament.
Describing it is a ‘zombie policy’ he warns it could mean up to 20,000 new vessels joining the various European fishing fleets over the next seven years and a large chunk of the money will go to the French, Spanish and Portuguese vessels, some of which fish in UK waters.. The UK’s Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon has pledges to oppose the measure and Mr Clover says the only hope now is to shame enough members of the EU fisheries committee into voting against it before it goes to the full European Parliament. The money, he says, should be used to help fishermen fish more selectively, so that stocks can rebuild.