An open letter from scientists: EMFF

[If you’re a scientist and would like to sign the letter, please scroll to the bottom of this page.]

The reality of overfishing in European waters is well documented and the EU needs to make positive changes to effectively manage its fisheries.1 This requires investment in scientific research to provide adequate advice and ensure that policy decisions are transparent and consistent with them Advice is consistent. However, across the EU – from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, Western Waters, the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea – scientific advice is not always followed, effective surveillance, control and surveillance of fishing activities is inconsistent and fish stocks continue to be overexploited.

This degradation of nature at sea is exacerbated by the provision of public money through government subsidies – a problem long described by scientists, including noted 18th century economist Adam Smith.2 Harmful fisheries subsidies are the main drivers of these unsustainable measures of exploitation of our depleted fish populations and decline in marine species.3 They allow fishing fleets to operate outside of boundaries that would otherwise be neither sustainable in terms of fishing economics nor biological sustainability, as ships can continue to fish despite dwindling revenues and Resources. Harmful subsidies include all forms of public investment that artificially lower costs or increase profits in the sector. In the EU context, they include the construction, renewal and modernization of ships, as well as fishing aid, income support programs and ship recruitment programs, if not implemented correctly they can lead to over-exploitation.4 However, some decision-makers still ask their questions Effect.

The EU still defies fully effective fisheries management in all of its waters and harmful subsidies must be removed if its fisheries are to become sustainable. A future European Fund for Sea Fisheries (EMFF) could drive this reform forward by diverting harmful subsidies to the benefit of the marine environment. Indeed, citizens are calling on EU governments to fund 25% of the EMFF for nature conservation.5 This could help local communities manage marine protected areas together or invest in technologies that will help ensure that the Industry has little impact. For example, reduce bycatch of dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds and sharks. 6

It is estimated that taxpayers spend $ 35.4 billion annually on fisheries subsidies around the world, 63% of which lead directly to unsustainable and destructive practices.7 The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for “Underwater Life”, SDG 14, explicitly calls for the elimination of subsidies that contribute to overcapacity, overfishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing by 2020

However, the EU continues to grant harmful fisheries subsidies. Their removal and redirection to beneficial forms of support has been slow, and the bulk of the harmful subsidies remain, even according to the most conservative estimates of the current EMFF.9 While the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU a With the new EMFF 2021 –2027 it is important that the positive steps of the last 20 years build on this and are not quickly reversed.

The decision to use the EMFF will have an impact on the EU’s position in negotiating a global agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO). If the EU does not remove harmful subsidies from the EMFF, a WTO agreement in line with the SDGs will not be reached.

We, the undersigned scientists, urge EU governments not to reintroduce harmful subsidies into the EMFF and instead ensure that these funds support the restoration, protection and preservation of nature at sea and the long-term sustainability of our oceans Livelihoods are used.

(The scientists who signed this letter did so on their own terms. Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only and do not imply any institutional position on fisheries subsidies.)

1. European Environment Agency, 2019. Messages from the Sea II. No. 17/2019. See it here
2. Leazer, John. “A Case for Subsidies? Adam Smith and the 18th Century Scottish Herring Fishery.” The Historian 75.1 (2013): 47-68. See it here
3.IPBES (2019): Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Platform for Science Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. ES Brondizio, J. Settele, S. Díaz, and HT Ngo (Editors). IPBES Secretariat, Bonn. See it here
4. Sumaila, U. Rashid, et al. “A bottom-up reassessment of global fisheries subsidies.” Journal of Bioeconomics 12.3 (2010): 201-225. See it here
5. See the BirdLife Europe petition for more information
6. Campos, Bruna, et al. (2020): Turn the tide on the EU seas with a green recovery. See it here
7. Sumaila, U. Rashid, et al. “Updated Estimates and Analyzes of Global Fisheries Subsidies.” Marine Policy 109 (2019): 103695. See it here
8. United Nations. 2015. Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. United Nations, New York, NY (USA). See it here
9. Skerritt, Daniel J. et al. “A 20-year retrospective on the provision of fisheries subsidies in the European Union.” ICES Journal of Marine Science (2020). See it here

List of signatories who support this open letter:

Dr. Rashid Sumaila, professor at the University of British Columbia
Dr. Sebastian Villasante, professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela
Dr. Daniel Skerritt, postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia
Dr. Jean Harris, Managing Director of WILDTRUST
Dr. Anthony Bicknell, Research Associate, University of Exeter
Emilia Jankowska, Senior Research Fellow, project draft
Dr. Ilyass Dahmouni, scientist, Ilyass Dahmouni
Dr. Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, lecturer at the University of St. Andrews
M.Sc. Ignacio Gianelli, Research Associate, Faculty of Science, Uruguay
Dean Page, postgraduate researcher, University of Hull
Asta Audzijonyte, Chief Researcher, Natural Research Center
Paul Day, Director, Carijoa Marine Environmental Consulting
Dr. Richard Lilley, director of the Seagrass project
Ian Bryceson, Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Hussain Sinan, PhD student, Dalhousie University
Dr. Jonathan Handley, Marine IBA / KBA officer, BirdLife International
Dr. Stephanie Borrelle, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto
Pr Didier Gascuel, Head of the Center for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, at Agrocampus Ouest, Institut Agro


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