Press Release

Subsidising fishing: how many times do EU fisheries ministers want us to pay for our fish?

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BRUSSELS - Ahead of an EU fisheries council meeting in Brussels on May 14, OCEAN2012 today publishes its latest briefing on how overfishing is impacting daily lives. The briefing exposes how EU taxpayers’ money is being spent fuelling EU overfishing. Fisheries ministers are meeting to debate how future subsidies should be spent and how to reach sustainable fishing limits.

In EU waters 63 percent of assessed stocks in the Atlantic are overfished, 82 percent in the Mediterranean and four out of the six stocks in the Baltic. This is primarily the result of poor decision-making based on short-term considerations. And as stocks have declined subsidies have fuelled overfishing by reducing the cost of fishing while increasing the capacity of fleets to catch fish. The World Bank and FAO estimate that overfishing is costing $50billion a year globally, in the EU that is estimated to be €3.2billion for just 43 fish stocks.

“Subsidising overfishing has meant subsidising environmental and economic failure, while healthy fish stocks could mean more fishing with more employment for marginalised communities.”

Markus Knigge, spokesperson for OCEAN2012

“Subsidising overfishing has meant subsidising environmental and economic failure, while healthy fish stocks could mean more fishing with more employment for marginalised communities.” said Markus Knigge, spokesperson for OCEAN2012, a coalition of over 160 organisations dedicated to ending overfishing in the EU. “We appreciate that after so many years of mismanagement it is not easy to turn the tide; however, public funds should be directed to restoring fisheries not to fuel overfishing.” 

Some of the ways the public is paying for fish again and again:

  1. Between 2000 and 2008, public subsidies of €33.5 million were spent on modernising the fleet targeting endangered bluefin tuna.
  2. Annually about €850 million in EU subsidies is used to support structural measures, including vessel modernisation, but less than €50 million to support control and enforcement aid and less than €50 million for scientific data collection; and
  3. Several operators engaged in illegal fishing activities continue to benefit from EU subsidies.

Notes to the Editor:

1. The press release was also released in:

2. OCEAN2012 briefing: Subsidising overfishing: how many times must we pay for our fish?

  • Includes links to: English / Deutsch / Español / Français / ελληνικά - Greek / Italiano / Nederlands / Polski / Português (PDFs).
  • It is the fourth in a series of briefings illustrating the impacts of overfishing on people or marine ecosystems caused by the excess removal of millions of tonnes of marine life every year. See all the OCEAN2012 impact briefings.

3. The report Lost at sea: £2.7 billion and 100,000 jobs outlining the cost to the EU overfishing 43 stocks

4. Details of OCEAN2012's proposal for a reformed CFP can be found in our publications section.


OCEAN2012 is an alliance of organisations dedicated to transforming European Fisheries Policy to stop overfishing, end destructive fishing practices and deliver fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.

OCEAN2012 was initiated, and is co-ordinated, by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organisation working to end overfishing in the world´s oceans.

The steering group of OCEAN2012 consists of the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, Ecologistas en Acción, The Fisheries Secretariat, nef (new economics foundation), the Pew Environment Group and Seas At Risk.

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