Speaking at the PECH Committee meeting last week Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Fisheries outlined the requirement for fishing vessels to qualify for financial support during the temporary cessation of fishing activities caused by the effects of COVID-19 crisis.
In order to qualify for Temporary Cessation financial support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), fishing vessels from EU Member States must show that they have been actively fishing a minimum of 120 days in the previous two calendar years.
To mitigate the significant socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the need for liquidity in the economy, the EMFF are granting financial compensation to fishers for the temporary cessation of their fishing activities.
The EU will pay up to 75% of this compensation with the rest to be borne by Member States.
Support for the temporary cessation of fishing activities caused by the COVID-19 outbreak will not be subject to the financial capping applicable to the other cases of temporary cessation, therefore allowing Member States to grant support on the basis of need.
Vessels that have already reached the maximum six month duration of EMFF support for temporary cessation under Article 33 of the EMFF Regulation will nevertheless be eligible for support under the coronavirus measures until the end of 2020.
“Temporary cessation is only for vessels that were active a minimum 120 days in the last two calendar years,” the Commissioner told the Committee. “This aims to ensure that support is granted to vessels that are really active and not dormant vessels.
He warned, “We have inactive parts of our fleet in some Member States. We cannot risk to waste public money to pay them for temporary cessation while this money is so much needed elsewhere.
“For temporary cessation, the activity off 2018/2019 will count and I’m confident that active vessels have been fishing the 120 days during this to full calendar this year.”
He said in the Commission’s opinion “Active vessels are also more sensitive to the reduction of their traditional distribution channels and cannot adapt easily to this situation.”
On the matter the Commissioner concluded by saying that though there are restrictions on vessels receiving financial support from the EMFF, the EU Commission will not be putting restrictions on Member States allowing fishing vessels to access State Aid.