Across the EU, the work of fishers and other food producers has been classed as essential. As the crisis unfolds, fishermen struggle to continue to bring food to our tables.
According to small-scale fishing body LIFE Platform, lockdown and sanitary measures have closed markets at both home and abroad, creating a devastating impact. The EU has stepped in with amendments to the 2014-2020 EMFF allowing unspent monies to be used to support temporary cessation of activities and for storage aid.
Member States are responding to the crisis in different ways, some with comprehensive packages of measures, as in the UK and Italy.
‘Others, like Ireland and Cyprus, are doing little. In Ireland storage aid will be provided, whilst the authorities search for unused EFFF funds. We hear that in Cyprus the authorities’ response is to provide grants for temporary cessation,’ A LIFE Platform spokesperson said.
‘The situation in Zygi is devastating for the fishing community. In order to comply with the administration’s lockdown measures the local market which sells fish to restaurants was closed down and some fishers had to suspend their activities. There is another fish market where we usually sell fish but it can no longer buy our catch,’ reports a representative of the Zygi Fishers Association in Cyprus.
‘The national government has offered €1000 euros per month to vessels prepared to tie up during the lockdown. Some applied for this financial help while others declined. Officials say this is the maximum they can do but we are sure that more could be done although at the moment we do not have any information on whether the government will be able to increase such help. The harbour looks pretty depressing. The boats of those who suspended their work have been chained up by the Fisheries department. However we are optimistic that this is a temporary storm.’