European Union to Phase Down Fishing Subsidies

But will keep the various restrictions the subsidies were meant to offset


Subsidies for fishing vessels in Europe are to be tightly curtailed, reining in member states' extensive fishing fleets, after a decisive vote in the EU parliament on Wednesday .

Grants for new boats, ostensibly to modernise equipment and make it more efficient and environmentally friendly, have been used as a sweetener to thousands of fishermen affected by restrictions on catches under the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP). But the policy was regarded by green groups as open to abuse and counter-productive, as swelling the existing fleets with new and more powerful vessels contributes to over-fishing.

Fleet renewal funding, giving fishermen grants for better boats, was phased out in 2002. But fishing interests, who were stung by the success of reforms this year to the CFP that will eventually see them lose days at sea and forced to land all of their catch instead of just the most lucrative specimens, fought strongly for the vessel subsidies to be reinstated. That proposal was defeated by 427 to 204 votes in the European Parliament on Wednesday .