The European Commission has activated new crisis measures to support the fishery and aquaculture sectors in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The crisis mechanism of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) will bring immediate relief to operators of the fishery, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors through financial compensation for their economic losses and additional costs.
This will enable Member States to grant financial compensation to operators for income lost due to the current market disruption, as well as storage aid for producer organisations. This step comes in addition to the Temporary Crisis Framework, which enables Member States to provide support through State aid.
‘The war in Ukraine is a war against all of us,’ said Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.
‘Our fisheries, aquaculture and processing sectors are hit hard due to high energy, oxygen and raw material prices. This is the second time in the past years after the Covid-19 pandemic, so we are again taking quick action to support them in this turmoil. These emergency crisis measures should not in any way impede our long-term efforts towards structural energy transition of the fishery and aquaculture sectors to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal.’
Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has resulted in increased prices for energy and raw materials, generating very high additional operating costs and squeezing profit margins in the fishery, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors.
The mechanism activated allows Member States to grant two types of crisis measures. These are financial compensation to operators of the fishery, aquaculture and processing sectors for their income foregone and additional costs stemming from the current market disruption. Additional energy costs can be covered by the compensation if they are linked to the market disruption caused by the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine.
In addition, financial compensation can be granted to producer organisations if they implement the storage mechanism of the common organisation of the markets (“storage aid”). That mechanism allows producer organisations to store the products of their members as a way to secure a satisfactory level of price on the market.
The EMFAF crisis mechanism is a temporary measure. It applies retroactively as of 24th February 2022, the date of the start of the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and will last until the end of 2022.
Member States can decide whether or not to take up the option is using these measures. If they do so, they will have to include them in the next version of their EMFAF programme, submitted to the Commission.
According to the Commission, many EU fishing vessels are not going to sea to to the high costs of operation, and staying alongside is the lower-cost option, and the EU fleet as a whole is becoming virtually unprofitable.
Fishing vessels operating in the Black Sea also face the threat of possible military activities, therefore leading to a precautionary suspension of their activity.
Aquaculture and processing sectors are also harmed by the increase of costs of energy and raw materials, as well as high logistics and transport costs. It is expected that the fish market will face a negative supply shock, both of fresh (EU) fishery products due to the decisions not to go at sea and of certain processed or preserved products as a consequence of the raw material shortages.
In line with the EMFAF Regulation, the Commission has the authority to activate crisis support mechanisms in case of an exceptional events causing a significant disruption of markets.