Operating rules for European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) aid to help fishermen to comply with new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) requirements were endorsed by Parliament on Wednesday. EMFF aid will help fishermen to observe the discard ban, e.g. by buying more selective fishing gear, but will also be used to improve safety and working conditions, data collection and port infrastructure. All this will help to make EU fisheries more sustainable.
"This vote sets up a sustainable fishing model for the next ten years. For me, talk about sustainable fisheries is not just talk and praiseworthy sentiment. Sustainable fishing means above all practical measures to eliminate overfishing and control fleet capacity while allowing fishermen to live from their work", said rapporteur Alain Cadec (EPP, FR). His text was approved by 473 votes to 52, with 40 abstentions.
More money for data collection for better fisheries management
In negotiations with the Council of Ministers, Parliament’s negotiators managed to improve the European Commission proposal, especially on collecting and managing fisheries data, which are needed, for example, to set the Maximum Sustainable Yield required by the new CFP rules (MSY means the largest catch that can be safely taken year after year whilst maintaining fish stock size at maximum productivity). MEPs ensured that €520 million of the EMFF budget - a considerable increase over the original Commission proposal - will be earmarked for data collection.
Support for young fishermen
MEPs also included in the EMFF proposal a clause to allow fishermen under 40 years old to be granted up to €75,000 in individual start-up support if they buy a small-scale and coastal fishing vessel between 5 and 30 years old and have five years' professional experience in the sector.
Parliament also added EMFF support for withdrawing, replacing or modernising engines for vessels up to 24 metres long, including a requirement for those of 12-24 metres that the new engine's power output be less than that of the engine it replaces. However, an amendment to reintroduce fleet renewal subsidies was rejected.
Towards sustainable fisheries in the EU
To give effect to the new, reformed CFP, which obliges member states to set sustainable fishing quotas from 2015 and introduces a ban on discarding unwanted fish, the EMFF will help fishermen to comply with the new rules by supporting investments in more selective fishing gear or equipment to facilitate handling, landing and storage of unwanted catches. EMFF aid will also be used to improve safety and working conditions, data collection and port infrastructure.
The Council is expected to formally approve the agreement in the coming weeks, after which it can be published in the EU Official Journal. The EMFF regulation is the last of the three pieces of legislation in the CFP reform package, which is now completed. The other two, (both already in force) are the basic regulation for the CFP reform and the regulation on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products.
Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), first reading agreement