Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Subsidies 'should aid fish stocks'

Four-fifths of people questioned in six EU countries, including the UK, said subsidies should not be paid to fishermen who break fisheries law

More than two-thirds of people think European fisheries subsidies should go to conserving and rebuilding fish stocks, rather than to fleets, a poll shows.

The survey for Green Budget Europe (GBE) found 68% of those quizzed wanted subsidies to go to looking after fish stocks through measures such as data collecting and preventing illegal fishing, rather than to fishing businesses.

Four-fifths of more than 7,000 people questioned in six EU countries including the UK also said subsidies should not be paid to fishermen who break fisheries law.

More than three-quarters (76%) of those polled across the EU member states by YouGov thought subsidies should not be granted before proper assessments had been made to make sure the size and power of the fleet does not lead to overfishing.

GBE, which aims to bring together governments and groups in Europe to promote environmental reforms, urged fisheries ministers to listen to taxpayers about how to spend subsidies.

The organisation said subsidies favoured individual fishermen rather than focusing on measures that would sustain fisheries for the wider benefit of the public.

Some 1 billion euro (£800 million) is going to support the fishing sector and only 50 million euro (£40 million) going to research, data collection and enforcement measures, the group said.

Fishermen are also paid irrespective of whether fleets were fishing sustainably or not, and subsidies can benefit those who have been known to violate EU fisheries law before, GBE said.

Sebastian Buschmann, research associate at GBE, said: "Even though European fisheries subsidies have not received much public attention to date, the results of the public poll show that European citizens have a clear opinion on how their tax money should be spent.

"It is striking that the participants' responses indicate how EU citizens would like fundamental changes to the existing policy and position of governments in the ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the subsidies regime."

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