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EU fishing subsidies destroying industry, WWF says

EU fishing subsidies destroying industry, WWF says
GENEVA - European Union subsidies totalling 1.4 billion euros (dollars) a year will doom the fishing industry unless halted soon, the conservation body WWF-International said.
The Geneva-based pressure group also urged ministers of the 15-nation bloc meeting in Brussels next week to back proposals from the EU Executive Commission to limit catches of endangered stocks of cod, whiting and haddock. \"Tragically, a once-in-10-years chance...to remedy the situation is being resisted by Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Ireland and Greece,\" said Simon Cripps of the group\'s Endangered Seas Programme. These countries, he said, opposed the limits because they received most of the subsidies paid out by the EU at the expense of taxpayers. The six countries argued that slashing catch quotas and redirecting subsidies toward reducing fleet sizes and increasing safety on remaining boats would harm fishermen, he said. But Cripps warned that failure to reform would further harm the industry. Fish stocks have plummeted in EU waters over the past 30 years because of overfishing. The size of fleets had been inflated by subsidies through the Union\'s Common Fisheries Policy, bringing ever-smaller annual catches, he said. \"The next effect of overfishing will be the collapse of fish stocks and the end of the fishing industry,\" Cripps said. \"Tens of thousands of European fishermen have already lost their jobs as fishing becomes increasingly unviable. It will only get worse if stocks are fished to commercial extinction,\" he said. \"The future of the fishing industry depends on there being fish to catch.\" REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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