special topics / eu fisheries subsidies /


The total EU fisheries sector receives annually support of approximately 1.5 billion euro. In additions an estimated 0.5 billion euro is spent on management, research and enforcement. These expenses represent 17-18% of the total income generated by the total fisheries sector. Apart from the management costs, about 1 billion euro is destined for the support of the catching sector alone, which in its turn generates an annual income of about 4 billion euro.

The European Fisheries Fund is the most important instrument for support of the fisheries sector. Other instruments are the de minimis support, fisheries partnership agreements and price support. The study reviews the various subsidies in relation to market distortions and sustainability. 

In order to phase out support to fisheries it is proposed to distinguish four groups of measures, which require different approaches:
  • Support directly benefitting individual firms should be abolished.
  • Promotion of developments of common interest should be strictly defined, with gradually increasing contribution from the industry.
  • Fisheries management should be carried out in close public-private partnership with well defined rights and responsibilities of each stakeholder.
  • Measures related to regional and social development should be transferred to  EFRD or ESF.
More effective fisheries management can be achieved by making use of the existing market forces. It is recommended to introduce internationally transferable user rights at national level and payments for access. Payments for access will maintain the spirit of relative stability and stimulate fleet efficiency. Individual user rights will promote efficient division of the available fishing opportunities.

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