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  • More focus on specific needs of small-scale coastal fishing and outermost regions
  • Better promotion and sustainable development of aquaculture
  • EU is global ocean actor and the world’s fifth largest producer of seafood

The new European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, endorsed by the Fisheries Committee, aims at safeguarding investments and providing clarity for EU funding in the sector.

The Fisheries Committee calls for a 10% budget increase for the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund for the 2021-2027 period (total financial envelope of €7.739 billion in current prices). MEPs say that such increase would have very limited impact on the EU budget (current EMFF accounts for only 0.6% of EU spending), but can bring substantial benefits for fishermen and coastal regions.


MEPs also slightly adjusted the split of resources proposed by the Commission:


  • 87% for the so-called shared management (involving Commission and Member States),
  • 13% for direct and indirect support (covering measures such as scientific advice, control measures, market intelligence, maritime surveillance and security).

Specific amounts should be reserved for:


  • outermost regions (at least 15%),
  • the protection and restoration of marine and coastal biodiversity (at least 10%),
  • the improvement of safety, working and living conditions of the crew, training, social dialogue skills and employment (at least 10%).

To emphasise the importance of sustainable aquaculture, MEPs increased the references to aquaculture throughout the legislation and adapted the name of the fund accordingly.


Compensation for fishermen


The Fund may give compensation in case of permanent cessation of activities if the cessation leads to a permanent decrease in fishing capacity and the support received is not reinvested in the fleet, MEPs added to the existing support conditions. They also included clarifications for the temporary cessation of fishing activities, with compensation possible in some cases.


Better support for outermost regions


The Fisheries Committee modified the Commission proposal to increase the focus on outermost regions by increasing financial support, encouraging the renewal of small-scale coastal fishing fleets as well as allowing Member States to supplement EU compensations with national state aid. The construction of new small ports or landing sites in remote areas, particularly in the outermost regions, should also be supported by the Fund. MEPs also request the Commission to evaluate the possibility to create a Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity (POSEI) for maritime and fisheries issues.


Quote


Rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, Spain) reacted to the committee vote: “A fisheries fund with an increased budget and flexible and simplified conditions is needed more than ever to face upcoming challenges for the sector, such as the landing obligation, and to reach levels of Maximum Sustainable Yield for all fish stocks by 2020. Brexit should not be an excuse to reduce the budget for fisheries. I am pleased that my colleagues brought all their support on this. "


Next steps


Following the committee decision, Parliament’s plenary is expected to vote its first reading on the proposed regulation in April.


Background


In the context of the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The proposal aims to simplify the delivery of the fund compared to the very complex legal framework currently in use. The EU is a global ocean actor and the world’s fifth largest producer of seafood.