COVID-19: MEPs endorse enhanced support to EU fisheries and aquaculture 

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  • Financial compensation for fishers that have to temporarily stop operating and aquaculture farmers that have to suspend or reduce their production 
  • Support for producer organisations so that they can temporarily store fishery and aquaculture products 
  • Simplified procedures and budgetary flexibility 

MEPs adopted in plenary additional measures providing support to EU fishers and aquaculture farmers severely affected by the pandemic.

The package of specific temporary measures includes supporting fishers in the sector that have to temporarily stop operating, financial aid for aquaculture producers when production is suspended or reduced, support to producer organisations to temporarily store fishery and aquaculture products, as well as a more flexible reallocation of national operational funds.

Following swift, unprecedented cooperation between the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee and the Presidency of the Council, which led to an informal agreement during the Easter weekend, significant improvements were made to the proposal. These changes will allow support to be given to fishers who have just started their activity and fishers on foot (i.e. those fishing without a boat), provisions for outermost regions to be adapted to deal with the consequences of the crisis, as well as countries that have exhausted all allocated funding to not be penalised, through budgetary flexibility.

The measures will be eligible retroactively as of 1 February 2020 and will be available until 31 December 2020.

Following the final plenary vote, Fisheries Committee Chair, Pierre Karleskind (Renew Europe, FR) said: “This special, interinstitutional cooperation shows how committed the EU is to addressing the consequences of the pandemic on the fisheries sector. The EU can really be present for its citizens when it channels its available resources towards supporting them.”

Background

On 2 April, the Commission proposed a new set of measures, including the “Corona Response Investment Initiative Plus” which includes specific measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius presented the additional measures and answered MEPs’ concerns during the Fisheries Committee meeting on 7 April. The Committee requested the adoption of the measures under “urgent procedure” (defined under Rule 163), during the extraordinary plenary session of 16-17 April.

The new measures amend the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products (CMO) regulations.