Director-General of DG MARE has replied to the NSAC and NWWAC joint letter saying the Commission is to deliver a solution on fuel crisis in days
The Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva has relied to the joint letter from the North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) and the North Sea Advisory Council (NSAC) on their concerns over the impact the rising cost of fuel is having on the EU fishing fleet.
On Monday, 14 March, Chairperson, Mr Emiel Brouckaert of the NWWAC, and Mr Keen Skau of the NSAC issued the joint letter which asked the Commission to act urgently and save the food security of the EU by intervening in the fuel crisis, where the cost of fuel and especially diesel oil has skyrocketed due to the Russian invasion og the Ukraine.
The letter had noted to the Director-General that since March 2020, the EU fishing industry has been under severe pressure due to the outbreak of COVID-19 which closed fish markets and forced many fishing vessels to tie-up to the quay.
At that time, the Commission allowed for the introduction of a temporary cessation of fishing activities schemes for fishing vessels right across the Member States. In last week’s letter they have called on the EU to act similarly as it has become uneconomically viable for boats to go to sea because of fuel prices.
In her reply, the Director-General said she understood the concerns od the fishing sector regarding the rising fuel prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the current situation in Ukraine. She replied that the Commission was working on a plan and that it would be implemented in the coming days.
She empathised saying, “This series of crises is unprecedented for fishermen, and obviously also for all of us and for the world.”
She said, “The Commission is actively listening to the concerns of all stakeholders, we are closely monitoring the socio-economic situation and assessing its impact.
“In this time of crisis, receiving the concerns you have expressed is very helpful for us in order to maintain a full understanding of the difficulties faced by European fishermen and the fisheries and maritime sector as a whole. The war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of raw materials, energy, trade and markets, the labour force, conducting fishing activities, as well as other aspects. The operation of businesses across all sectors of fisheries, aquaculture and processing, all along the supply chain has been impacted. This includes short and long-term consequences. I am also fully conscious that this crisis comes on top of the recent impacts of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector.
“In light of these disruptions and the consequent socio-economic impacts, let me assure you that we are considering all possible options across the full range of instruments available. This includes an unprecedented level of sanctions to disable the Russian war effort, while also considering the impacts these sanctions could have on the EU industry. The sanctions package is being complemented by actions to support EU operators and to help them both during the immediate crisis and to transition to a more resilient, energy efficient and sustainable future operating model in line with our EU Green Deal and for resilient EU economy. This includes looking at possible re-allocation of the existing funding under the EMFF (2014-2020) and triggering the crisis mechanism under the EMFAF (2021-2027), as well as EU State Aid options.
“We are working to act quickly (in the coming days) to address the real needs of the sector, including those set out in your letter, while giving careful consideration to how best to address them.
“I would like to invite you to keep close contacts with my services on these issues and provide us on a regular basis information on the state of play on the ground.”