Environmental Pillar criticises Jim Higgins MEP’s support for overfishing

Dublin – 9th May 2011. The Environmental Pillar of social partnership has criticised Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins’ support for increasing fishing industry subsidies.
Higgins is supporting European People’s Party members in calling for the Commission to double the financial assistance paid towards fuel costs for the fishing industry, because of rising oil prices.  But new research by Smart Taxes, a policy research group associated with the Environmental Pillar, clearly shows that fuel subsidies support overfishing and prevent stock recovery plans in Irish waters.
“Increasing subsidies at this time is scandalous,” said Edward Fahy, author of the report, and speaking on behalf of the Environmental Pillar. “The fishing sector does not pay standard fuel taxes and receives a wide range of different types of subsidies. Many fish stocks are threatened, so subsidies should only be used to support stock recovery.”
“It is deeply worrying that a Fine Gael MEP shows no understanding of the threats facing Irish fish stocks and fisheries dependent communities,” continued Mr Fahy. “Why does Government and the EU continue to subsidise the destruction of fish stocks and the future of the fishing industry at the expense of the very communities they profess to be aiding. Fuel subsidies should be removed in the first instance from vessels that tow environmentally damaging unselective gears in fish recovery areas.”
The new report from Smart Taxes shows that fish stocks are threatened by over-exploitation and that fisheries for several valuable species have declined rapidly over the past forty years. The report claims that EU responses such as species recovery plans, for species such as cod, have not been effective because unselective fishing methods catch the recovery species along with the targeted species.