Report: The use of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in Croatia in relation to the protection of the marine environment and its resources
A new report by BirdLife Partner BIOM reveals that Croatia spent over 66 million euros of the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) on harmful subsidies during 2014-2020.
Out of an envelope of 344 million euros, only 164 million euros (48%) had been paid out by the 31st of December 2018. Out of these 164 million euros, 66.2 million euros or 40% were paid out in subsidies identified as harmful to the marine environment and a mere 26.7 million euros or 16% were paid out in subsidies identified as beneficial to the marine environment.
The subsidies identified as harmful consist of payments for permanent and temporary cessations of fishing activities and payments to modernise fishing vessels. These subsidies contribute in particular to the increase in fleet capacity and thereby contribute to overfishing in Europe. Furthermore, a large part of harmful Croatian subsidies is linked to reducing the operational costs of the aquaculture sector and promoting the growth of that sector without environmental considerations. These subsidies are contrary 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 have identified 9 beneficial subsidies in the Croatian EMFF Operational programme, however the funds were paid out for only two of them – Data collection and Control and enforcement. That means that by the end of 2018, no subsidies related to restoration and conservation of fish populations and the marine environment, limitation of impacts of fisheries, diversification of livelihood opportunities, environmentally friendly aquaculture or partnerships with scientists have been disbursed.
Croatian decision makers must commit to and pay out the remaining beneficial subsidies from EMFF 2014-2020 if Croatia is to start on a path towards a more sustainable and resilient fisheries sector in the near future. In the context of the current EMFF negotiations for 2021-2027, we must ensure that all spending conforms to the objectives of the EU Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy and is socially fair.