6.1 billion to support fishing and protect fishing communities

The EP adopted the fisheries and aquaculture fund for 2021-2027 on Tuesday. Supporting the blue economy, biodiversity and international ocean governance are among its objectives.

The new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) calls on Member States to invest to make the fisheries and aquaculture sectors more competitive and to develop a sustainable blue economy, as well as new markets and technologies. Protecting and restoring biodiversity are also among the priorities. At least 15% of national budget allocations must be dedicated to actions to promote fishing control and data collection, and to combat illegal and irregular fishing.

At Parliament’s request, Member States will have to identify the needs of small-scale coastal fishing and specify what they plan to do to encourage its development, thereby approving specific measures for inshore fishing and outermost regions.

Regarding the difficulties of more remote regions, such as the Canary Islands, the additional costs they have to face due to their location will continue to be compensated.

Other relevant measures

To encourage youth employment in fishing communities, where the average age of workers is over 50, the new Fund will be able to finance the purchase of the first boat, or partial ownership (at least 33%) for minors. 40 with at least five years of experience, or an equivalent qualification.

Among other measures, it has been approved that fishermen who temporarily interrupt their activity for conservation reasons will receive compensation; Likewise, those who have to scrap their boat due to the permanent cessation of activity will also have support; and there will be financing for the purchase of the equipment necessary to comply with European rules on landing and fishing controls – such as devices for tracking vessels or for reporting catches.

The actions framed in the Fund must not lead to an increase in fishing capacity, except if it derives directly from the increase in gross tonnage necessary to improve safety, working conditions or energy efficiency.

Gabriel Mato (EPP, Spain) said: “The new Fund was negotiated at a difficult time. The European fleet lost important fishing grounds due to Brexit, the fish supply chain was paralyzed due to the pandemic, added to the pressure to reach an agreement at the WTO on fishing subsidies. Furthermore, the young generation is reluctant to work in the sector, emissions must be reduced, in line with the Green Deal and international obligations, and aquaculture production is stagnating, while in other countries the sector is thriving. “The Fund aims to mitigate the impact of these challenges.”

Spain is the country that has received the most financing from this fund in the period 2014-2020, with 1.2 billion euros, ahead of France, Italy and Poland, according to data from the European Parliament. In addition, it is the third country with the largest fleet in the EU with 8,886 ships in operation, 10% of the total fleet, according to data collected in 2019 by the European Commission. According to the latest report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Spain is the EU country with the most jobs linked to the blue economy: 27% of EU jobs in coastal tourism and 17% in resources living sailors are Spanish.

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