EP passes €6.1bn bill on sustainable fisheries

Photo: EP

The European Parliament adopted the 2021-2027 fisheries and aquaculture fund to support the blue economy, protect biodiversity and promote international ocean governance. The initiative is also aimed to support fishing communities. The new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 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.

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. 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.

“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", rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES) said.

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