The European fishing industry is urging the European Union to resist calls to remove tax relief on fuel for fishing vessels.
Two decades of WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies are drawing to their final stage and whilst the industry fully supports the need to curb unnecessary and counter-productive subsidies, Europêche is urging member states to defend fuel tax relief schemes amid concerns that removing them will drive the fleet to ruin.
According to Europêche, fuel supplied for navigation, fishing and aviation is exempt from taxation to ensure an international level playing field and these exemptions should not be considered subsidies. However, some claim that the schemes have contributed to overcapacity and overfishing.
The sector argues this is far from the case with managing director of Europêche, Daniel Voce, pointing out that unlike other countries which have grown their fleets, “the EU fleet has been reduced by 22,000 fishing vessels over the last 20 years”.
“In addition, despite tax exemptions, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from fishing are down by 18% in only 10 years,” Mr Voce continued. “As for the overfishing claims, fish stocks have been increasing significantly reaching in the North East Atlantic levels 50% higher than in 2010. Besides, 99% of the landings from EU-regulated stocks come from sustainable fish populations.”
Europêche argues that removing fuel tax relief would put the EU at a competitive disadvantage and cause a large increase in fish prices rendering seafood unaffordable for many.