A new report from BirdLife partner BIOM shows that Croatia spent over 66 million euros from the European Fund for Sea Fisheries (EMFF) on harmful subsidies in the period 2014-2020.
Of a turnover of 344 million euros, only 164 million euros (48%) had been paid out by December 31, 2018. Of that 164 million euros, 66.2 million euros or 40% was paid out in subsidies that were classified as harmful to the marine environment and only 26.7 million euros or 16% were paid out as subsidies that were found to be beneficial to the marine environment.
The subsidies identified as harmful consist of payments for the permanent and temporary cessation of fishing activities and payments for the modernization of fishing vessels. These subsidies contribute in particular to increasing the fleet capacity and thus to overfishing in Europe. In addition, a large part of the harmful Croatian subsidies are related to lowering the running costs of the aquaculture sector and promoting the growth of this sector without environmental considerations. These subsidies run counter to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The subsidies identified as beneficial to the marine environment consist of subsidies for knowledge acquisition, data collection, protection, and monitoring and enforcement. We identified 9 beneficial subsidies in the Croatian EMFF operating program, but they were only paid for two of them – data collection and control and enforcement. This means that by the end of 2018, no subsidies related to restoring and conserving fish populations and the marine environment, limiting the impact of fishing, diversifying livelihoods, green aquaculture, or partnering with scientists have been paid.
Croatian decision-makers need to commit and pay the remaining beneficial subsidies from the EMFF 2014-2020 if Croatia is to embark on a path towards a more sustainable and resilient fishing sector in the near future. As part of the current EMFF negotiations for 2021-2027, we must ensure that all spending is in line with the goals of the EU Green Deal, the EU biodiversity strategy, and is socially just.
Read the report: The use of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) in Croatia to protect the marine environment and its resources