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Imagine if European waters had enough fish to feed an additional 160 million EU citizens; if our fishing industry yielded an additional revenue of €3.2 billion each year and created up to 100,000 new jobs. This could be a reality if we let fish stocks grow to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by setting appropriate catch quotas. The sooner fish stocks are returned to sustainable levels the sooner these benefits can be realised.
The newly approved Common Fisheries Policy aims to restore fish stocks and make European fisheries sustainable and profitable once more. But this can only be done with adequate data on fish stocks and the proper enforcement of laws that prevent overfishing. It is vital for the future of Europe’s fish stocks that the financial instrument of the CFP – the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – is targeted towards data collection, control and law enforcement.
Current funding for data collection, control and enforcement is currently at just 1.5% of the value of landings. Tripling this amount to €302 million annually would be a small investment given the additional gains in jobs and food supplies. For every €1 invested in data collection, control and enforcement, there is a potential return of €10. What’s more, industry stakeholders support the idea of communal measures, with some calling for better coordination of data collection.
The new EMFF subsidies framework is an opportunity to dramatically increase funds for data collection, control and enforcement. The outcome of the upcoming EMFF vote in the European Parliament will either support continued overfishing or support appropriate quotas, sustainable catches and the responsible management of our fish stocks.