The European Parliament has adopted the 2021-2027 EMFAF worth €6.1 billion. Photo: DFPO
The European Parliament adopted the 2021-2027 fisheries and aquaculture fund to support the blue economy, protect biodiversity and promote international ocean governance.
The new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), adopted on Tuesday, encourages member states to invest in making the fisheries and aquaculture sectors more competitive and helping develop a sustainable blue economy, new markets and technologies. Protecting and restoring biodiversity is also among the fund’s priorities. At least 15% of national allocations will have to be spent on actions to foster fisheries control and data collection, and to counter illegal and unregulated fishing.
Specific measures for small-scale coastal fisheries and outermost regions
At Parliament’s request, member states will have to take into account the needs of small-scale coastal fishing and describe what they plan to do to help it develop.
The constraints experienced by outermost regions are also addressed in the new fund, as the additional costs these regions face due to their remote location will continue to be compensated.
To bring younger people into fishing communities, where workers’ average age is over 50, the new EMFAF can finance the first vessel or partial ownership (of at least 33%) for fishermen younger than 40 who have at least five years of experience or have acquired an equivalent qualification.
Other important aspects:
– fishermen who have to temporarily stop working to abide with certain conservation measures will be compensated;
– those who have to scrap or decommission a vessel if their activities cease permanently will be supported;
– equipment needed to comply with landing obligations and EU fishing control rules, such as vessel tracking and electronic reporting devices, will be financed.
Actions under the EMFAF should not lead to an increase in fishing capacity, except if it directly results from an increase in gross tonnage necessary for improving safety, working conditions or energy efficiency.
Rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES) said: “The new EMFAF was negotiated at a challenging time. The EU fleet lost important fishing grounds because of Brexit, the seafood value chain was paralysed because of the pandemic, and there was pressure to reach an agreement in the WTO on fisheries subsidies. In addition, the young generation is reluctant to enter the profession, CO2 emissions must be reduced in line with the Green Deal and international obligations, and aquaculture production is stagnating, while in third countries the sector is thriving. This fund humbly seeks to contribute to mitigating these challenges.”
The regulation will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will apply retroactively as from 1 January 2021.
Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the new EMFAF in December 2020, based on the proposal published by the Commission in June 2018. The duration of the Programme is aligned with the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The previous EMFF budget covering 2014 to 2020 amounted to 6.4 billion EUR.
EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “I welcome this vote by the European Parliament. The new fund enters into force at an important juncture. The coming years will be crucial for our efforts to making EU fisheries still more sustainable, while securing the livelihoods of our fishermen and women. The EMFAF also enable us to support the green recovery of Europe’s blue economy and underpin EU’s leading role in promoting sustainable ocean governance worldwide. I now call on Member States to finalise their national programmes as a priority, so together we can continue delivering on our shared commitment to a healthier ocean.”
Of the total budget, €5,311 billion will be provided through national programmes co-financed by the EU budget, whilst €797 million will be managed directly by the Commission promoting horizontal priorities, including in the areas of blue economy and ocean governance.
Members States are expected to finalise their programmes in the coming months, to ensure that the funds can be put to work as soon as possible.
Under the EU’s common fisheries policy, the fund will enable Member States to pursue priorities such as the implementation of the landing obligation, aiming to overcome wasteful discard practices, and strengthening EU’s fisheries control to foster compliance and ensure a level playing for all operators. This also includes support for investment in effective fisheries control tools discussed in the context of the ongoing revision of the EU’s fisheries control system, such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras.